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#68040 - 11/02/03 12:58 AM How can I make this easier for my wife??
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Europe
This is to all those spouses or partners of SA survivors. I'm looking for advice.

I have tried twice to talk about my abuse, but becasue it is so hard, I'm not very good at it.

My wife gets frustrated and impatient, asking a lot of questions I'm not ready to answer yet, not even sure of.

She's angry at me for not being forthcoming, adn for not telling sooner, but I really did not know before.

I'm upset because it is so hard to talk to her, but what can I expect. How is she supposed to just wait patiently when I drop the bombshell that I have been abused?

Question:

Sharing this stuff is hard enough on me, how can I make these talks easier for her? What made it easier when you found out OR what mistakes should I avoid?

Does this question make any sense?

_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#68041 - 11/02/03 01:32 AM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
First, know that you have already taken a HUGE step in acknowledging that the S.A. happened. In my view, your telling your wife about it at all is a gift--TO/FOR HER. It is a significant demonstration of trust, faith, hope, and the desire to share with her, to deepen the understanding and connection between the two of you.

I can understand how difficult it might be for her to allow you to disclose at your pace. I can certainly empathize with her desire to know more details, etc. However, it is important that you not be rushed or pushed beyond what feels right to you at any given time.

Have you tried explaining to her what you posted to us about this? About how you understand what an impact your disclosure must have had/be having on her right now; and further, that you can also empathize with her wanting you to disclose more than you are able to at present? The only other thing that I can think of to add here is that, when you feel that she is able to listen again, you can try to reassure her that you want to be able to share more with her and will as you become able to.

It sounds like she is very important to you and that honest sharing with her is too. Hopefully she will be able to see/feel that soon and so become more supportive in allowing you to process things in your own time and way, knowing that her love and support is a cherished part of the process for you.

Keep the faith!

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#68042 - 11/02/03 10:20 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
stpbb Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 103
Hi – Yes, your question makes a lot of sense & I’ve been trying to think about my answer. I've tried to think of what I would have wanted someone to tell my ex bf when he started dealing with this stuff more openly. It can be quite a shock for a partner. I know that in my case, even though I suspected that he had been abused before he did (because of the memories of his sisters) I was still really upset by the reality of it. It is awful to think that anyone could harm the person that I love. I had a fairly protected childhood & never imagined parents or caretakers could be so awful. That was a shock to me and took some time to accept.

I am not sure what she is pressuring you to talk about, so it is hard to answer specifically. I guess I would say that if it is pressure for you to disclose information or details about what happened, then I would encourage you to define your own boundary before discussing it with her. There is nothing wrong with feeling like there are details that you do not want to share. I also think it is a mistake for a partner to feel they have a ‘right’ to know everything about the other. On the other hand, if it is about your current relationship & how the abuse has affected the dynamic between you, then the more open you can be about your feelings, the better she will be able to understand and support you.

Perhaps the first step would be to talk about what the ground rules are. What do YOU need to feel safe talking about it? Maybe that would help both of you.

The other thing I’d suggest is that she see a therapist herself. I have been fortunate because I already had my own therapist who is quite knowledgeable about abuse & trauma recovery. She has given me a lot of support & I have been able to ask her lots of questions. That has let me be much more supportive of him & much more sensitive & understanding of what might be difficult for him. She really helped to validate some of the issues he has & connected them to the SA. It took the pressure off my ex bf to ‘explain’ abuse.

The other thing that I did as a partner was to be clear in my own mind what was too upsetting to me. I talked with my ex about my own limitations – I am not a therapist & I am emotional about him. Some things were very hard to hear & some things are not necessary for me to hear. My personal feeling is that I don’t want to know everything. I am very empathetic & I don’t want to be traumatized by mental images of him being hurt. I don’t know how this sounds or comes across to the survivors here – it isn’t something that I’ve read about on this board, but I did discuss it in therapy & conclude that just as there is information he doesn’t want to share, there is information that I don’t want to know. Again, I think that is a personal issue that doesn’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, just what is right for the two of you. For me, it isn’t the knowledge that xyz happened, it is the details that I can’t handle.

I would like to applaud you for even asking. The fact that you are asking the question shows that you really care about her. It is great that you are able to see that she has feelings & realize she is also affected by this. For a long time, my ex bf was very insensitive to my feelings – that is partly why I had to clarify what kind of support & listening I could do. It probably would have been easier if he had understood that because I care about him, I am also affected by knowing what happened to him. The fact that it is upsetting to me was a surprise to him – I think that relates to his low self-image & the fact that he doesn’t expect others to care about what has happened to him.

Don’t know if I’ve answered your question – please let me know if I’ve missed something or if you want me to clarify.

-BB.


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#68043 - 11/02/03 10:43 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Europe
Thanks for all the powerful, helpful thoughts.

_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#68044 - 11/04/03 11:08 AM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Hi - again I also want to congratulate you for wanting to disclose..

Since this is such a "loaded" and emotional process, have you thought about finding a couples therapist (who specializes in trauma and abuse) who may be able to help facilitate this disclosure? Someone you trust (i.e. do you have your own therapist) and who you would look to as a "safe third party" who may help you and your wife with this?

At the very least then this person could be a "referee" for both of you - the T could help your wife get the answers to the questions that she will undoubtedly have (that you may not be able to or want to answer right away) and provide a safe framework for you - to help reinforce your boundaries for disclosure that you need to stay within as you work through this?

Disclosure can cause so much fear, anger, anxiety and pain on both sides that maybe this would be an acceptable approach for both of you to have it mediated. i.e. the situation you described about your partner asking "why didn't you disclose this earlier" - someone needs to tell her how hard it is to disclose this type of stuff and why it is hard (and then realizing that she will need someone to talk to about her feelings about all of this and perhaps that person should NOT be the you - i.e. you dont need to feel that you have to defend yourself to her in addition to the overwhelming pain you are wrestling with due to the abuse itself).

I'm just making this suggestion beacuse as I look back at the "disclosure" in my own relationship with a SA survivor I think we could have benefitted from this rather than trying to "go it on our own". There was so much anger, fear, anxiety (on my part it was more about how he dealt with the SA rather than the experience itself) that it got really ugly really often! I KNOW we both could have benefitted from extra support during that phase. I would have liked to talk on an intellectual level to a professional about sexual abuse, its effects, etc. and how this situation affected me, and for my fiance I'm sure he could have benefitted from someone being "on his side" and ensuring that someone "kept him safe" from my probing questions, which unfortunately went too far some times. \:\(

And I guess we also needed someone to tell us that we are not insane going through all the stuff we were going through - that there was nothing wrong with who we were or with us as a couple, but that EVERYTHING we were wrestling with was a symptom of the abuse itself.. that we were just "two ordinary people responding NORMALLY to some extraordinary events"!!!


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#68045 - 11/04/03 03:28 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Europe
Update...

Things were getting really tense around home. I was looking at this site in secret, usually too late for my own health. She knew I considered myself a CSA survivor, said it was unfair for me to share that much with her if I was unwilling to say more.

It is also hard for me to have this emotional rollercoaster inside while trying not to have it influence my "normal" life. I don't want to keep secrets, but telling is hard.

Messages in this thread helped TREMENDOUSLY. Thanks Stride and BB. for picking up on how much I actually care and helping me to show that side while disclosing.

It was a rough night when I told her, lots of jumps and starts. At first I tried telling her about this thread...should have known better.

Finally, I told her that the reason it was hard to talk about is that the whole thing makes me feel worthless.

Taking that cue, she revealed her own current sense of worthlessness. As she spoke, I could empathize, but I also thought she was trying to change the subject from my pain. Then I realized maybe I was the one being impatient. I waited and listened.

Every once in a while, she would complete her train of thought and ask me for more. AFter I spoke, she would process verbally again with a meandering line of associations that often went to totally unrelated stuff. Sooner or later, though, silence returned, and she let me speak.

It was late and we were in bed by the time I told her. She was sooooo good. I felt loved.

We're still working. I wish she were open to couple's therapy, but she isn't. Right now I'm thankful for her allowing me to go.

She comes from a long line of cynics as far as psychology/therapy goes.

She has asked, since my disclosure, some pretty painful things. (What did I do to stop it? Who else knew?) She also told me that some of that probabyl wasn't sexual for the other party, that I just saw it that way. Her comments really feed my deepest doubts...

Anyway, I did it! I told somebody and the world did not end! She loves me just the same.

Maybe she could be more supportive, but such is married life. I have learned to be patient, and let good things come from her in their own time.

All of y'all are saying such good stuff. Right on the money. It helps me more than you know.
Thanks

Oh yeah, one more thing. I think what she appreciated most is when I told her specifically how I felt my past played a role in our relationship. It answered a few questions she had in surprising ways, and I think that is one reason she will continue to tolerate my going to therapy.

On behalf of my family, thanks again. You, too, PAS!

_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#68046 - 11/04/03 03:53 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
outis Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2260
Loc: Maryland USA
Quote:
I waited and listened.
L2R,

Thank you. I learn all kinds of stuff when I come around here.

Thanks,

Joe

_________________________
"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

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#68047 - 11/04/03 05:01 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Good that it all worked and that it came out safely. The T suggestion was only to help create a framework for safety for both of you but sounds like you dont need it.


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#68048 - 11/05/03 01:28 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
gryffindor Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/08/03
Posts: 131
Loc: St. Charles, Illinois
[QUOTE]Originally posted by learning2remember:
[QB] Update...
I was looking at this site in secret, . . .
__________________________________________________

Why the secrecy??? Why not share this site with your wife. You could even try reading it together. She might even change her mind about couples therapy.

Mary

_________________________
"Where there's a will, there's a way." American Folk Saying

"Had I not fallen, I could not have arisen; had I not sat in darkness, I would not have recognized the light." Midrash Tehillim Ch. 22

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#68049 - 11/05/03 11:22 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Europe
What you say makes sense...to me.

I kept it a secret because the first time I told my wife that I thought I had been abused she totally invalidated everything I said. She thought I needed therapy for such thoughts, not because abuse had actually occurred.

I was really wary about showing her this site because I suspected she would not like it.

That night I filled her in more fully, I DID show her this site. She was extremely uncomfortable with me talking about this stuff with others, and mad that I might even talk about our relationship with strangers.

She tends to see things in black and white, and considers blame the most effective route to problem solving. She has made it clear that seeing a T is not her cup of tea.

(Her family of origin is too "scientific and logical" to go for psychobabble. To be fair, they have had some bad experiences with medical professionals--incompetent doctors and doctors who told family to keep secrets from the patient. They have learned not to trust "experts.")

I am relatively cool with this, because I am convinced she will eventually come around. I just have to give her space and time to process.

After I explained to her why this site was important to me, she gained a greater appreciation for it. Still, she would rather not look.

_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#68050 - 11/07/03 10:58 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
helpmystephen Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/07/02
Posts: 19
Loc: nyc
You have already received some great advise. Stride was right, Telling your wife is a big steps and shows how much you care for her. Your wife is very lucky that you are beibg so open with here! I have found that while I don't know many of the details of what happened to my husband, I would really rather know where he is in his head. If he had a bad dream or feels vulnerable or scared. However, he doesn't open up to me and it makes things really difficult, which results in my feeling rejected. I understand that talking to your wife about all of this may be taxing, maybe if there is something that you want her to understand you could try to write her a letter. This will give you the opportunity to say what you want without interruption and her the chance to understand what you are saying. Good luck.


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#68051 - 11/08/03 12:19 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Europe
Thank you, thank you, Thank God for you.

_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#68052 - 11/08/03 01:34 PM Re: How can I make this easier for my wife??
The Dean Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 2080
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
L2R,

On our front page, just under where you log in to the Discussion Board are the Myths about male sexual abuse, then under the next link Reporting sex abuse is the link to Ten facts about SA of Boys and the effects. If you wife reads nothing more, I would really suggest that she reads these. Also introduce her to the family and friends forum. The women there are wonderful and very understanding.

Bob

_________________________
If we do not live what we believe, then we will begin to believe what we live.

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