My husband and I have been stuck in a circular debate about "duty" in a relationship. He said that it was likely that in the future we would stay together "out of a sense of duty." i was first offended. then calmed down and tried asking "why" questions...why do you think that? what does duty mean, would you not stay without it? etc.
I learned two things: questions like that set him off and he is totally glued to this idea of duty.
we talked about it in therapy and it turns out that he believes the world, himself, everything will fall apart if he does not stick to his duty which is his routine and responsibility. This devotion to duty is what "keeps him in line."
does this sound familiar? a coping mechanism? a common aspect of relationships with CSA survivors? Does anyone else have spouses with rigid routines or preferences? My H gets up and goes to bed at the same, eats the same thing for lunch, has worn the same "uniform" since he was 15 or so, can't handle crowds, bright lights, etc. We thought it might be asperger's but it wasn't.
ithink of myself as offering gifts: doing dishes is a gift, making the bed, etc. but it makes him uncomfortable. He said that gifts always have strings. So i thought honoring each other would be a good compromise.
what i got was a full blown defensive meltdown about trying to change him. it lasted for days. even now, i don't say the word "chores" because it's too closely linked. so i backed off.
i don't want to take something away from him if it is literally keeping him together but i also don't want to be in a relationship that is governed by duty...which sounds like obligation.