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#59758 - 05/12/04 12:51 PM How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
Anyone else's spouse/partner go silent (and I do mean silent, no eye contact either, nothing) for extended periods of time? It has been 2 1/2 days now. All I can do is wait. It is hard with 2 small children in the house, I try to explain to them why Dad is quiet, he needs time to think....while not bursting in to tears myself. This has been a hard spring, this year feels more difficult than others. I'm struggling dealing with this, you'd think I'd be used to it. He'll come around, I know, and this is his way of coping, but I feel abandoned too. \:\( \:\( \:\( Others of you may experience this too? Maybe for weeks, or months? How can I prepare myself for this, again. I feel like I have to detach from my husband in order not to be a hindrance to his coping method. Where does that leave us, as wives/partners/loved ones? My empathy turns into a pity party for myself, which I'm not proud of at all.
Kathy


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#59759 - 05/12/04 01:02 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
swartzhund Offline
Member

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 61
Loc: Michigan
Hey Kathy, I'm sorry about the hard time you're having right now. I do the same thing....usually only when I'm really angry about something and can't think of a way to discuss it without saying things I don't really mean. I usually come around too but I always feel terrible about shutting my loved ones out because I know it hurts them too. I guess its just the only way I know of to deal with myself. I isolate myself to avoid certain things but it gets pretty lonely being all alone in my head like that. I don't know if this is of any help but I'm can tell from the things you've said here that your hub loves you very much and appreciates your support.....hang in there!

_________________________
Brian

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#59760 - 05/12/04 01:56 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Wow! Every time I read a post like this I realize that it may be a blessing in disguise that my Friend & I don't live in the same household or even in the same part of the Borough! I cannot imagine what it must be like!
But I DO understand the Pity Party all too well...

I think this is difficult for anyone - men and women - but it is harder on women bec. we are so "relationship-oriented" in the first place.

I am beginning to understand that these times of extreme stress/ desertion/ loneliness etc. are probably just cyclical. We just have to learn how to wait them out without doing lasting damage to ourselves or our loved ones.

I do have a question for the guys, though: when you are going through these periods of isolating from those closest to you, do you also pull back on all of your superficial relationships as well? Would a casual friend or colleague notice that your behavior had changed in any way?

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#59761 - 05/12/04 03:32 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
This is such an important question !
It seems to me that women tend to take this silence for a lack of love while men need it to sort themselves out to be able to love fully their partner.
I tend to accept more these times of silence. An act of love and faith I guess.
I must had that my relationship with V has been blown (hiroshima level in terms of disaster)

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#59762 - 05/12/04 04:08 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Kathy--

This must be so hard on everyone in your home. Two days?! Is this all day with everyone around him, at work etc., or just at home with you and the kids? Has he told a therapist or anyone that he spends days in silence, making no eye contact? Some time alone can be therapeutic certainly, but like swartzhund mentioned, the little corner where you go to be alone can turn into a big lonely cave and you wouldn't know it until you try to get out and can't.

I think survivors force isolation on themselves sometimes as a form of acting out. I mean "acting out" in the sense of trying to seek out and recreate feelings of guilt/worthlessness/shame, and of course this is a coping mechanism of sorts but not a healthy one that you should feel that you have to support.

There is control, and satisfaction (esp. with small kids in the house!) and a kind of defiance, in choosing to be alone--"Now no one can reach me, now I can do what I like, I can finally RELAX" -- but it's easy for that control to slip into despair--"I'm alone now just like I always am and always will be alone, no one can FIND me, no one will ever understand or come to help me" (not very relaxing)-- and from there it's just half a step to brand new guilt feelings and blame that come from the act itself-- "Look at me all alone here when my wife and kids need me, I'm pathetic and worthless, can't even be a good dad/partner, can't even make friends, I don't DESERVE to be found or understood..."

I think this is a particularly dangerous kind of acting out too because on the other hand, there is a healthy need that we all have for 'quiet time' and it's hard to draw the line between productive time alone and damaging time alone. It's not like down time is something you can try to stop doing. And just like any other acting out behavior, I don't think there's a way to stop it until the survivor decides that feeling bad feels bad and he is ready to stop feeling bad.

Kathy, I wish I could be more helpful. I don't have time or the mental clarity to say much more right now.

SAR


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#59763 - 05/12/04 04:18 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
Caetel I am sory to hear about the blow up with V.

It is confusing for me in that he was ale to talk on the phone to a contractor (our roof needs a repair), but it seems all his anger is directed at me. We were talking the other night and things were going along very nicely. During this time I asked him about this past weekend when he left without saying anything to me Sat. morning, that I wish he would not do that, and wished I could support him as I feel like a fail him in this regard, when we have had numerous discussions about him and how he says my greatest support is to just "be there". Things got too intense I think while talking about this and he just ended the talking, when straight to reading and dismissed me, as he said our conversation wasn't "going anywhere", but I thought it was. He also told me that I seem to focus on what I don't have rather than what I do have (meaning when he is not himself I focus on it??) I told him I definitely know what I have (a great husband, father to my children, lover, friend, supporter, you name it) Maybe he felt on the spot durin this conversation? Maybe I was asking too much, I don't know? I do know that I feel awful, again like I am the reason this happened when things were going so good in our talk. Ugh..... And now nothing since. Won't even sit by me on the couch, no interaction, no eye contact, just a big old ball of nothing. Brian - I thank you for your reply that helps me to hear. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so much of a person who needs that conversation/touchy/feely stuff. Then when this happens (his withdrawal)I wouldn't miss him so darn much, I wouldn't know any different. I don't think I'll make any attempt to establish any coversation with him, just let him make the first move, I guess. Here goes the "dance of withdrawal" again. Guys, is this what we partners should do, or rather what you might want us to do when you have withdrawn/shut down? Just stay the heck out of you way? I know everyone is different, but so many of the things that happen in our relationships seem so similar.

I'm hanging in there but feeling totally crummy. Wonder what he's feeling. One never knows..... \:\(

Instead of wifenneed I'll sign off as wifewiththickhead.


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#59764 - 05/12/04 05:46 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>>I wish I wasn't so much of a person who needs that conversation/touchy/feely stuff. Then when this happens (his withdrawal)I wouldn't miss him so darn much, I wouldn't know any different.

Dont apologize for being anything other than who you are. I would not like this situation one bit either. I cannot stand it either when I get the freeze out.

On monday night I got treated to the opposite reaction - the OVERLOADED ANGRY WOUNDED CHILD PURSUIT - ugh.. still getting over that. Sore back from stress.. ughgughghghg...

I have found that when I try and chase my partner when he pulls away, to try and plead with him and dig him out now I realize that there's no use chasing. It can be kind of dangerous for me to follow him into the "catatonic lion's den" - I sometimes get bit. I made this error on Monday night and got called some nasty names. NO EXCUSES for that though he has been called to task on that.. things just got really out of control.. ayoyee...its so stupid when I give him space he chases me down and does not want to give me the space he demands from me.. and so he pursues me, I tell him I need space, he drops a bomb on me, runs out, then I get upset, chase him, do the same thing in reaction... its the most ridiculous dance I've ever seen. Blah.

Anyhow in my saner moments I try to remember that when he engages in pulling away I should just carry on as if I was alone for awhile. In my saner moments I will also remember all about appropriate behaviour and say something eloquent like "I dont like when you do this, I understand why you may be going where you are going but this is not good for us, this behaviour hurts me, and I think you need to talk to someone about this. This is NOT healthy"... but alas I forgot to be so "up" on Monday. Ugh.

I was watching Dr. Phil last night (no matter what you think of him he has good points) and he did indicate that the "pulling away" that some wounded people do in relationships was the emotional equivalent to a slap in the face.. so dont discount the pain that you feel when he pulls away.

>>>>I don't think I'll make any attempt to establish any coversation with him, just let him make the first move, I guess.

Best plan. Sooner or later he's bound come around. At least you will still be going about your business, living life, not letting this state drag you down too.

Women and men at the best of times in non SA relationships tend to engage in a pursuer (women) - distancer (men) dance..

Try to break the dance. Remember - if you continue to do the same thing and get the same dissatisfying result, try someting different.

Its scary, sure, but give it a try?

P


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#59765 - 05/12/04 05:57 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
MikeNY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/07/04
Posts: 927
Loc: NY
Ummmmm, to simplify some psychology. Are any of you familiar with schedules of reinforcement? What many of you are going through is not much different than gambling. Random schedules of reinforcement of what you want and is "good" for you thrown in amongst a lot of other not so good stuff. This is part of why I have started keeping my mouth shut more. I know more than I should about a lot of things and it can be "bad" many times. I don't like thinking that the things that I say may be having direct results on people's lives. Sometimes "bad" effects. I put it in quotes because it is a relative term.

_________________________
"Every child asks the questions which hold the answers to the secrets of the universe, WHAT?, and WHY?". --Me

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#59766 - 05/13/04 09:27 AM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
MikeNY-

Would you please elaborate, if you are willing. I would appreciate it. PM me if you'd rather.

I was able to ask a few questions of him yesterday evening, about car repair, and a doctor appointment. I did get a nod and a shake of the head. No other interaction now going on 3 1/2 days.

He has said before that he gets himself in to a hole and doesn't know how to get out, and won't/can't ask for help. He has gone to counseling in the past, years ago. The person he used to see does not practice now, and he doesnot want to start the process all over again with someone new.

I'm at a loss. I left him a few notes these past days telling him I love him and appreciate all that he his and all that he does, and apologized if I invaded his space conversationally. I am going about my life/work/home situation as best I can. That's all I can do...I'm afraid that if I say "what you are doing is hurting us and is not healthy", that I will be reinforcing him feeling bad about himself for trying to cope with what's going on inside as best he can. All I can do and have done in those small notes is thank him for who he his, how far he has come, and tell him I love him and miss him. \:\(


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#59767 - 05/13/04 12:50 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
MikeNY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/07/04
Posts: 927
Loc: NY
The only elaboration that I am comfortable giving right now is that you and the children are important too. He needs to work WITH you on this. He needs to respect you and what you want and need also. You do have a right to speak. He does not have a right to use his SA against you. The two of you NEED to communicate. You need to know that you can't "fix" him. You can help him "fix" himself. He already knows that what he is doing is hurting you. It is making him feel worse already. Something should be done about it. As for the reinforcement stuff that I was talking about, you are being emotionally blackmailed and becoming addicted to it and accepting it as normal. You have to be careful with all of this. I caution you on any move that you take. But, can you stand on pins and needles for the rest of your life? I cannot tell you what is best for you or what approach to use. You know that better than anyone here does. It is very difficult to give any real advice from here. There are always different factors involved. Every time that you go through this, it can be something different helping to cause it. Nomatter what you tell him, it will probably make him worse inside. He needs help, or he might lose everything. You might lose everything. Unfortunately, he might think of that as an option that would be good for you, to no longer have to deal with him.

_________________________
"Every child asks the questions which hold the answers to the secrets of the universe, WHAT?, and WHY?". --Me

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#59768 - 05/13/04 02:09 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Kathy

Everything you've described feels familiar to me-- it sounds a lot like the way things were in my house three or four years ago. I would come out of the kids' bedroom from putting them to sleep and if I said the "wrong thing" he would get up and walk out of the house with no goodbye or anything. And nothing when he came back either--and I wouldn't press it because I didn't want him to walk out again. I used to write him letters and letters--then I'd find them tossed in the back of the car unread, or lying open on the kitchen table while he was in the other room with his friends.

I understand the pain and abandonment and helplessness of getting shut out like this. These are hard memories for me, in some ways they're the hardest because I feel sort of responsible for them. But in retrospect I can see that HE needed to, and was going to, walk out of the house, and that was all about him. Waiting for me to do some little thing so that he could blame his need on whatever he'd decided was wrong that day, was about shifting responsibility off of himself and it tricked me because it played off my own insecurities.

I thought for a long time that silence and postitive reinforcement no matter what was the best bet, that it would seem accepting and supportive. Actually my boyfriend read my silence as very negative--as MikeNY said, he knew already that he was hurting us and being unhealthy and he thought that I said nothing because I expected no better from him. When I accepted his half-hearted apologies and attempts to change, he saw that as me not really being invested in the health of the relationship and just saying "yes" to everything because I didn't really care. (He never would have said any of this to me at the time--I didn't hear any of this until just recently and most of these behaviors stopped two or three years ago)

I think that knowing that I will be holding him accountable for his actions, forgiving and supporting within reason but NOT standing idly by while he self-destructs, is a help to him, not a hindrance, and makes him feel more comfortable taking emotional risks, including the risk of trusting me. It's hard to appear trustworthy to others when you're not trusting your own best instincts.

But at the same time I don't take any credit for bringing about the changes in his behavior. I think that events in his own life, his disintegrating relationship among them, brought some things into focus for him and made him decide to change himself, and our relationship evolved as a result. It easily could have ended a different way. And honestly I don't know how much longer I could have lasted if it had stayed the way it was.

take care Kathy,
SAR


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#59769 - 05/13/04 02:09 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Originally posted by MikeNY:
The only elaboration that I am comfortable giving right now is that you and the children are important too. He needs to work WITH you on this. He needs to respect you and what you want and need also. You do have a right to speak. He does not have a right to use his SA against you. The two of you NEED to communicate. You need to know that you can't "fix" him. You can help him "fix" himself. He already knows that what he is doing is hurting you. It is making him feel worse already. Something should be done about it. As for the reinforcement stuff that I was talking about, you are being emotionally blackmailed and becoming addicted to it and accepting it as normal. You have to be careful with all of this. I caution you on any move that you take. But, can you stand on pins and needles for the rest of your life?
I tend to agree.. its a tough place to be but you cannot live in fear for too long either.. its no way to live.

I grew up with a father who used to do this.. he would withdraw more and more and become depressed and lethargic and despondent to the point of attempting suicide at least 3 times (he is currently threatening it again) so I know this is a very very difficult situation to be in. It is hard because it really is a manifestation of depression, and he really did need help (he never got good medical care on this but then again he never was an active participant in his own recovery either).

I dont know what was worse - saying NOTHING out of fear and feeling like I was constantly holding my breath and walking on eggshells, or saying SOMETHING and then worrying about the consequences. It truly is a choice between two shitty outcomes.. I tell ya but I usually prefered the latter - at least I didnt feel hostage and helpless. I could at least exhale. There was only so long I could go sacrificing my own emotional well being to "protect" the emotional frailties of another. I thought I was going insane.

All in all this is your decision to make and I for one know as well as anyone that you may well run the risk of making it worse by saying something, but the previous poster is right this is holding you and your family hostage. I am sure the kids are already asking a lot of questions at minimum and maybe even showing some emotional or behavioural reactions - if not yet they may start sooner or later.

Remember, you have the right to a responsive, available partner and your kids have the right to a responsive, responsible, and available father. And always remember that NOBODY can save someone from themselves if that is where they are going.

What he is doing is understandable, yes.

Acceptable? No. He's a parent and a spouse and needs to take some action here to ensure that he starts acting like one.

P


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#59770 - 05/13/04 03:22 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
Oh man you guys, I'm getting more and more sick to my stomach as 5:00 rolls around, and I'll be home again. I don't want to reinforce this behavior, to have him think it's okay that he does this by my not giving him any flack about it, and with my pitiful attempts at communication (giving him notes, asking him about only pressing issues). And I also don't want to beat him down further, to have him spiral down because I'm telling him this is unacceptable coping behavior. Years ago before we were married, when he was married to someone else, he said he would leave for long periods of time, just pack up and leave, live in his car, shower at work, etc. So he has made significant progress in his behaviors.

I do feel emotionally blackmailed. For me this sort of treatment is not healthy for me, but it is for him so that perhaps he doesn't do something even worse. (he was suicidal over a decade ago, prior to going to counseling, long before we were married)

I feel like I'm being punished. I know I shouldn't turn this back on myself, but I do. Wish I had a magic phrase to say to him....that woul at least break he silence.

"This is not fair, what you are doing. It is unhealthy for us as a family. We need to communicate."

How do you tell someone who is trying to cope with all this (SA, PTSD) that it's not fair to his wife/kids? That makes me feel like I'm the one not coping, and not accepting him for what he needs to do to get beyond this funk, as he calls it.

I think I've just crossed in to the realm of pscycho-babble. Just worried about toninght, and tomorrow, and who knows until when..........


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#59771 - 05/13/04 03:45 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
You know what is also so frustrating? It's that often our Loved Ones go about the REST of their lives, to all outward appearances, acting 100% "normal!" The childish behavior gets deposited in our laps & no one else in our Loved One's social or work sphere would ever guess at the way he is feeling or acting or acting out.

I always used to find myself thinking "Wow! If he's so good at pretending to everyone else, couldn't he just 'pretend' for me????"

It seems that there comes a point for many men that we become (to use Groucho Marx's de>
_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#59772 - 05/14/04 09:11 AM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
Yes I wish he could pretend for me, as you put it Kolisha. I don't know what he's doing at work, I could call a co-worker but I don't want to seem like weirdo checking up on my husband. It is now 4 1/2 days of this. I can't stand it. I did try to gently talk with him last night, apologized if I hurt him in any way, and asked if we could work through this so another day wouldn't pass with this going on, whatever it is. My tears came on of course without my controlling them, and he wouldn't talk. He even kind of insulted me at one point, though. The black looks I get from him are indescribable. There's not a damn thing I can do. Not one damn thing.

I feel lost, I feel like just giving up.


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#59773 - 05/14/04 10:52 AM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
"This is not fair, what you are doing. It is unhealthy for us as a family. We need to communicate."
This sounds like something that I'd consider trying sooner or later. You never know - maybe laying this down in a firm but non accusatory way may help. Sometimes people do need to have their "chains yanked". The "hard cold slap of reality" approach may just work. You may be surprised.

As far as your husband crossing over from ignoring you to insulting, THAT is inexcusable. I dont care if someone's been through a total crap day at work, had their car stolen, been beaten, robbed, whatever, unless they are out of their right mind and not aware of what they are saying, insults and crap like that is ALWAYS AND COMPLETELY unacceptable.

He may just be testing you with this - may be testing to see if you WILL stand up for yourself....

I know how scary it is to stand up and say somethign about this. I have been there with my partner and with my family (my dad used to verbally abuse me every time Id stand up and try to defend myself against his ridiculous behaviour). Believe you me I know FULL WELL how scary the prospect of doing this is. Dont be surprised, or put off of doing something about this because of the fear. This is a TERRIFYING thing to try and consider, let alone doing. But nobody should have to live in this kind of fear.. its an awful way to live. Feel the fear.. and try something different????

In the end the decision is up to you but remember, if what you are currenlty doing is not working, try something else.

Also - say what you will about Dr. Phil but these are some tips that he has from his article "Stop Excusing Inexcusable Behavior" that are definitely relevant here.

For you:

* Remember that you teach people how to treat you. Your partner is doing what he/she is doing because they can. If you're allowing the behavior to continue by making excuses for your partner and blaming yourself, stop. If you want to be treated with dignity and respect, stand up and require it.

* You can't change what you don't acknowledge. First, acknowledge that there is something wrong. If what is happening isn't normal, admit it. You need to set some new standards of acceptable behavior and your partner needs to know what those standards are.

* If you truly want the relationship to work, be real with yourself and your partner. Be completely honest and truthful with your partner about your wants and needs.

RE: your husband's behaviour...

* Understand that any time you turn away from your partner to fill your needs instead of toward him/her, it's a betrayal. It's not just what you do it's what you don't do. You can violate someone by withholding affection.

* If you need professional help, get it not for one week or two but until you have a clear direction.




P


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#59774 - 05/16/04 02:48 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Kathy, Kolisha, & all,

Don't take this the wrong way.

Quote:
I always used to find myself thinking "Wow! If he's so good at pretending to everyone else, couldn't he just 'pretend' for me????"
The unhealthiest part of the unhealthy dynamic during the unhealthiest time in my relationship, was the pretending.

I wished that my boyfriend would "act" invested in the house, kids, relationship, because I believed that he truly wasn't. I should have been honest with myself about this belief of mine-- why did I think that? If I thought that, why was I tolerating it, what was I doing about it?

Directly or indirectly asking my boyfriend to "at least pretend to care" gave him the message that I didn't really believe that he cared. Which was hurtful to him because it invalidated his actual caring that just wasn't coming through. If I'd said "I believe that you do care about this, but it's hard for me to see that you care when you do X and Y" then maybe he'd have wanted to resolve the disparity between his actions and his feelings. But if you tell someone how THEY feel, they're not going to waste a lot of time trying to get you to believe differently.

Also, the real reason that I wished he could pretend, is because *I* was pretending. I wasn't happy in that relationship. I didn't want to walk on eggshells; I didn't want to speak to him gently anymore; I didn't want to swallow my pride and suppress my own hurt anymore. I was NOT thinking, "If he can pretend for everyone else why can't he pretend for me..." I was thinking, "If I can pretend for him, why can't he pretend for me?"

We're working on honesty now, and if I thought even for a minute that he was "pretending" to listen, feel, care, apologize, whatever, it would feel like a slap in the face. I'd rather have him honestly leave me than pretend to love me. And I can say that because I know what Hell it is to "act" in opposition to my emotions.

SAR


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#59775 - 05/16/04 06:17 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wrangler Offline
Member

Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 84
Loc: Northern Virginia
I hope you guys won't mind my inturding in this thread, but it strikes a resonance with some of the things that went on in my marriage, and I wanted to throw what was going on for me during these spells... My behavior was similar, but not quite that same. I would get very detached, so that my thoughts/feelings had hardly any connection to my statements/actions. I may as well have been completely silent because everything I said or did was basically a lie, much like SAR describes.

So, why was I doing this? Ha! Because I was overhelmed with fear and anger to the point that I could not even put words on it. Occasionally this resulted from some recent trigger, but most of the time it sprang up because I had started to neglect myself and let the "mental trash" pile up. After all, it does get very exhausting trying to manage all this crap all the time... so breaks of the unhealthy variety are to be expected.

The main trouble with the situation is that is was a black hole. Not possible to pull myself out of because lots of irrationally thinking went on there. Feelings of inadequacy, shame, hate, anger, fear, emptiness, brokenness, etc just swirl around, all aggrevating each other and escalating the whole situation.

Indeed, it was usually something pretty dramatic that would break the trance... failed test at school, catching my wife looking at another guy and realizing she could leave... that sort of thing. Then I would kinda snap out of it with a burst of engergy and enthusiasm. Patching things up, being the "good" husband, attending to the house, my wife, school with a zeal that oooed and ahhed the people around me.

If you think you see the cycle of the perfectionist at work in some of this... well, good work.

My own thoughts about the specific question here are that this behavior is a big indicator of the survivors need for some proffsional help learning how to take care himself in a healthy and day-to-day sort of way. Probalby a lot of irrational thinking going on in his mind, and it is nearly impossible for those closest to him to get though that minefield.

Kathy... you mentioned that he did not want to "start over" with therapy. I was in the same boat last year, and although I did eventually start over, I remain bitter even now that I had to do it on my own. I don't know how much help my wife should have given me... when do you cross that unhealthy line? Not sure. But if it is something you believe would help and he is having trouble getting started, jump in and kick start the process. Make phone calls, interview therapists, make appointments. Just get him in the room and then hope that he uses the opportunity. If you do decide to get involved this way, just keep in the back of your mind that he is probably experiencing a lot of anxiety and fear... may help to explain some of the behavior you see.

PAS, SAR... does this sound resonable to you, or am I over the line? How much help is too much help when it comes to "starting over"?

W

_________________________
"Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself." -Mary Schmich

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#59776 - 05/17/04 10:05 AM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
Wrangler-
Thank you for your post, as well as everybody else. I think I will ask him about counseling again, ever so gently, and maybe we can strike up some conversation about what happened last week. He did snap out of it on Saturday, as you said Wrangler. What you mentioned sounds a lot like what he does. He is back to the caring, attentive, loving man that he usually is. He apologized, and I didn't press for anything more than that yet. I will talk to him later this week, to let him settle even more.

I was not serious about the "pretend" issue as we discussed above. I think at times I wish he could just "act" like he cared, but I know he does, deep down under all the swirling junk that must be going on inside for him. I think it takes tremendous strength on both our parts during these times, and seeing it through another one makes the bond stronger. But during them, good lord, it's not a pleasant place, to say the least.

It is still hard for me to comprehend what he is afraid of, in trying to go to counseling again. In all other areas of our lives he is rational and clear thinknig, a bit of a perfectionist too, just like me. So, in this one area where he knows it is not serving him or us to do these things, and counseling would help, he does not want to go. What is the fear, or is it just feeling shame? I support him all the way. In all things. I wish I could give him a shot of assurance that it's okay, whatever he's feeling or thinking, and take away the guilt and the shame and the silence he has to endure, and the toppling effect that this has like dominoes on our lives.

Wrangler I think I'll print this whole thing so I have it the next time around. To see in print what he's possibly feeling, as you described, really helps. Thank you again-

Kathy


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#59777 - 05/17/04 10:47 AM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>>most of the time it sprang up because I had started to neglect myself and let the "mental trash" pile up. After all, it does get very exhausting trying to manage all this crap all the time... so breaks of the unhealthy variety are to be expected.

>>>>The main trouble with the situation is that is was a black hole. Not possible to pull myself out of because lots of irrationally thinking went on there. Feelings of inadequacy, shame, hate, anger, fear, emptiness, brokenness, etc just swirl around, all aggrevating each other and escalating the whole situation.

>>>Indeed, it was usually something pretty dramatic that would break the trance... failed test at school, catching my wife looking at another guy and realizing she could leave... that sort of thing. Then I would kinda snap out of it with a burst of engergy and enthusiasm. Patching things up, being the "good" husband, attending to the house, my wife, school with a zeal that oooed and ahhed the people around me.

Thanks so much for this. I'm in fact in a "black hole" for over a week now with my partner. We're living together now in a house we just bought and the first week was utter bliss, then its been hell ever since. I even threatened to call the real estate agent yesterday and put the house back up for sale. I am just HATING living with him - its been so unbearable. He is swinging between "total control freak" (he got mad at me for not organizing the dirty dishes in the dishwasher neatly, while at the same time leaving dirty socks all over the house - does that smell like neat freak, or control freak to you??) and "shut down cold unemotional robot wall" just like the original post for this thread.

Control-check out, control-check out. This ugly swing of relationship death has to end soon.

Now I find myself in the midst of trying to put (sorry but I'm gonna curse in this post) my fucking money where my mouth is and I'm finding it really hard. I guess there's just an overwhelming feeling of loneliness that I've never had before - I used to be able to retreat to the safety of my own apartment, my own world, and leave him out, but now we're kind of joined, and the misery and pain and emotional shutdown just kind of permeates the place like a bad smell sometimes. I swear you can FEEL his bad moods.

But I know I've gotta toughen myself up to ride this out - but am having a hard time doing so. There's a few other things in my life that I gotta take care of - including a no-show employee that just doesnt have a clue, overwork, and seeing too much of my parents.

I think I just need some more self-care and less busy-ness for awhile. Maybe then I'll be able to stand strong against what I think is some pretty crappy treatment from my partner lately.

>>If you think you see the cycle of the perfectionist at work in some of this... well, good work.

Sarcasm like this makes me smile \:\)

>>>>My own thoughts about the specific question here are that this behavior is a big indicator of the survivors need for some proffsional help learning how to take care himself in a healthy and day-to-day sort of way. Probalby a lot of irrational thinking going on in his mind, and it is nearly impossible for those closest to him to get though that minefield.


I think this is what must be happening. What is hard for my partner is that he seems to carry on in a really normal way - he looks like the happiest, coolest, most fun, laid back kind of guy, but all the while this shit is percolating inside of him. And then BLAM he's acting all weird and we're in a giant fight, right out of the blue. I haven't seen 'em coming lately.

He's learned to lie to himself for so long, no thanks to his mom who embedded the phrase "if you cant say anythign nice dont say anyting at all" - gee thanks, lady. Now you have a son who lies to himself and to me all the time.


>>>Kathy... you mentioned that he did not want to "start over" with therapy. I was in the same boat last year, and although I did eventually start over, I remain bitter even now that I had to do it on my own. I don't know how much help my wife should have given me... when do you cross that unhealthy line? Not sure. But if it is something you believe would help and he is having trouble getting started, jump in and kick start the process. Make phone calls, interview therapists, make appointments. Just get him in the room and then hope that he uses the opportunity. If you do decide to get involved this way, just keep in the back of your mind that he is probably experiencing a lot of anxiety and fear... may help to explain some of the behavior you see.

I wish this was the case for us. My partner goes to about 3-4 hours of therapy a week, as well as a daily meditation practice, church, exercise, journalling, all the friggin self care you can get. Do you ever think that there is a line when someone can get TOO MUCH therapy and instead of processing things, they start to use it as a place to ruminate and fester, instead of moving forward and healing?? I'm starting to think that too much therapy is NOT allowing him to move on - he has a really tough time just letting things drop and moving forwards.

>>>PAS, SAR... does this sound resonable to you, or am I over the line? How much help is too much help when it comes to "starting over"?

I dont think this is too unreasonable - but there is always the risk that you can "lead a horse to water".. and he may not drink. Also - sometimes trying to help just leaves us vulnerable to having our partners take out their emotions on us - sometimes when things are REALLY bad for us and I think he needs something or other, and I try to be helpful, I get dealt things like "dont meddle in my business" or "stop fucking naggin me". HOwever, in the case of Wifeinneed - I think maybe getting some of the ducks in order so to speak may help. At least then he wont have to do the calling, and settign up appointments.

Ha.. I recall when I was in my low depressive/anxiety points, trying to call and set up appointments, I remember a receptionist getting really mad at me for a) forgetting my appointments b) not having patience when I was put on a waiting list and c) being too overanxious to get in to see the therapist.. seeing as how forgetfulness/anxiety/impatince are hallmarks of depression/anxiety, the irony of it just made me wanna hurl. I coulda used some help from someone a bit more healthy during those times in my life.

P


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#59778 - 05/17/04 02:26 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Wrangler,

I think you are totally right about this
Quote:
this behavior is a big indicator of the survivors need for some proffsional help learning how to take care himself in a healthy and day-to-day sort of way.
And I think that might even be part of the shame and guilt about needing therapy? That there's nothing big to pin it on? I mean, cheated on your wife, okay, therapy seems reasonable. Huge, dramatic nervous breakdown, sure, go to therapy. But unable to manage the mental stress of daily life? WHO goes to a doctor for THAT? :rolleyes:

Wrangler, I fear that this next is an "easy to ask, hard to answer" question. But I'll try.
Quote:
I remain bitter even now that I had to do it on my own. I don't know how much help my wife should have given me... when do you cross that unhealthy line?
I think there are two needs here that work against each other. There is a need to feel capable and independent, and there is a need to have our fears and desires recognized by someone who will take care of us. At first it seems that one of these is something you do for yourself and the other is something others do for you, but it's not that easy. To feel capable and independent, we have to be given the opportunity... that means that we need to be given/trusted with tasks that are possible for us to complete. It also means that we need chances to make mistakes and to be taught, so that we can complete more tasks on our own. And often it means that someone else must validate our efforts. And before someone else can recognize our fears and desires, we have to a) find the Someone Else who we want to share with (for example an older child might choose NOT to give an abusive parent any extra info. about their fears/desires), and b) give that person the information they require to fulfill our need, and c) accept the recognition and efforts at caretaking if they are given.

I am much more focused on independence than my boyfriend. Part of this is our childhoods-- my family was neglectful and I had to do a lot of things for myself. I only got help for things that I COULDN'T do myself, and I was shamed and put down for needing the help. So for me, if I needed to get professional help, I would have to do it all myself because if my boyfriend tried to make appointments for me I would take that to mean that he thought I was incapable of doing it myself, and I would feel shamed and put down about it.

I can certainly see a lot of this unhealthy background in my reasons for not helping my boyfriend to get therapy. I want it to be HIS accomplishment. I want him to be able to own his recovery and feel proud of what he's done for himself. I know that it might be hard for him to make phone calls, etc., on his own, but after he's done it, won't it mean more to him than if I did it for him? Isn't he tired of being underestimated and put down by the people around him? My stepping back from this was an act of trust and an affirmation of his abilities, not a withdrawal of support.

Here's why my boyfriend might not have seen it that way. His family taught him dependence more than independence-- actually they sacrificed his need for independence because they needed him to make THEM feel needed. When he tried to do things on his own, he was made to feel guilty and ungrateful about "abandoning" and "rejecting" their help, or too stupid/lazy/etc. to do it in the first place, or both. So for him, allowing himself to be taken care of in a way that I (and probably he too) would find demeaning, was a way to show a willingness to meet someone else's need. He expected me to "take care" of things for him over and beyond the unhealthy line, because to him, that's what I would do if I wanted a relationship with him. For him, acknowledging the desire/ability to do it himself would be mutiny.

I think it's fairly obvious how this developed into a pattern of withdrawal over lots of issues, not just my boyfriend getting therapy. He neglected his own needs because he didn't want me to think he was ungrateful or abandoning me. I didn't jump in and take care of his needs because I didn't want him to feel ashamed. When I didn't take care of him, he felt that I wasn't living up to my end of the relationship. I felt the same way about him expecting me to care for him, because I didn't want a dependant, I wanted a partner....

Where's the unhealthy line? Well one place is in the confusion of what you need with what someone else needs you to need. If my boyfriend had asked me for help doing things (see "what we have to do to get someone to recognize our fears/desires"), I would have helped him. If he'd asked me, will you help me find a therapist, I would have made the phone calls. But he didn't know how to ask for these things because the "taking care of" he'd gotten as a child was never about what he needed. If there were needs of his that didn't correspond with what he was already being given, they conveniently disappeared. So he didn't understand that being taken care of requires give and take. He's so used to being told what he wants-- if I'd pushed him into therapy, would I have been giving him what he wanted or what I wanted?


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#59779 - 05/17/04 07:05 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
I don't think I've ever gone 'silent' for days at a time, but hours certainly.
Usually over some innocent remark my wife made about "you've put that pan in the wrong cupboard again "

And when I was feeling worthless, useless and generally the lowest form of life it was enough to crush me, especially the "again" bit.
I'd think to myself "now I can't even put f*****g pans in the right place, f**k it !" and go into a big sulk and not say anything for the( probably ) unfounded fear of appearing even more useless.
"Our" favourite scenario was when I'd be laying the table and ask "what's for dinner then ?" and she'd say "I said an hour ago what I was going to cook, have you forgotton already ?" - and I would put 'everything' on the table in silence.

She didn't understand me and the silent treatment, and I didn't understand her. Why couldn't she just say "pizza, you forgot already ?"
Now we've got sorted out, after this eventually led to a bit of a row and we talked about the 'communication' that took place in incidents like this. We then discovered that she was frustrated at my poor memory / lack of paying attention, and I got angry about feeling stupid.
Neither of us were intentionally setting out to create these feelings, but we did.
Now we try to compensate for / accept each others 'behaviours' and work around these situations.
I'll come out of the dining room and look, and try to pay attention if we've discussed dinner earlier. And if I do ask she tries to answer simply. If it's something different and more important we both try to think about the other persons reactions to our response to their questions. Problem solved.

A Transactional Analysis based therapist would call it a "crossed transaction" that was a possible result of our "life>
_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#59780 - 05/18/04 11:59 AM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:
Originally posted by Lloydy:
I don't think I've ever gone 'silent' for days at a time, but hours certainly.
Usually over some innocent remark my wife made about "you've put that pan in the wrong cupboard again "
I get this all the time! He is constantly telling me how and where to put stuff, but as soon as I say something along this line, I get my butt in a sling!!! It just makes me feel that there's no point in even trying to bring up my issues and concerns and needs because they may trigger or upset him, but his about me are always fair game.

Tearing my hair out...

P


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#59781 - 05/18/04 12:06 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Quote:

A Transactional Analysis based therapist would call it a "crossed transaction" that was a possible result of our "life>

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