A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

A discussion area for anyone who loves a survivor and needs some support of their own.

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the husband
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by the husband » Sun Dec 29, 2019 8:47 pm

I didn't expect to be posting again so soon.

As I have mentioned, my wife only wants to have sex on weekend mornings, roughly every 1-2 weeks (often every 2). This has worked well enough for some time.

She recently changed her work schedule to include every other weekend. She did check in with me first as some responsibilities would shift to me, and I agreed because it was a really good opportunity. We didn't discuss our intimacy schedule specifically, but the likely agreement would have been that we just go to every other week. Good enough. The problem is that if we skip a weekend due to illness, poor sleep, non-work early morning activity, etc, then it's a month or more between intimate contacts. Remember here that sex is our ONLY intimate contact. She's not a kisser save for a quick peck, and is not really much for touching outside of sex.

Yesterday morning she was off and we both got up early, showered, brushed, and returned to bed. There was some massaging and cuddling, and then she said "What do you think about breakfast?" This actually means, "What will you make us for breakfast?" and signals the end of the morning romp. I inquired as to what was happening with our alone time, and she stated that he menses had started early and she thought I knew based on the state of our bathroom. (Here I wonder if her casual attitude about cleaning up in there was communication?) I pointed out that we usually just put a towel down. She stated that was true. I stated that I thought we were in a place in our relationship where we could have a discussion, rather than going on assumptions. She asked if she could do anything to "help me out", but I declined due to previous experience where she has behaved in an unenthusiastic manner. I didn't see the point in repeating the discussion about the importance of intimacy, since we've already been down that road. I made breakfast and we went on with our day.

I was upset, but I wasn't sure why for awhile. I finally realized I felt small and embarrassed, something about asking for affection and being made to feel ashamed for asking. My wife has every right to turn down intimacy and feel just fine about it, but it was the experience of being on the right day, at the right time, doing all the usual things we do right up to something that would lead to orgasms - then stopping cold for a reason that had not been an obstacle before. I guess that's it too - it wasn't an obstacle before and suddenly it was without notice or condition. I guess I don't believe that was the reason, and so I'm making up stories, then conflating the stories with past experiences of withheld affection. ... This is why it's helpful to write - that hadn't occurred to me until just now.

Harmony
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by Harmony » Sun Dec 29, 2019 10:09 pm

I am a big proponent of the 20 second hug. It is an amazing practice. I read somewhere that if you hug daily for 20 seconds with someone you care about it will expand your longevity. Perhaps that might be of interest to her. It is more of a mediation and an opportunity to slow down with one another. In my opinion: Sex is overrated. Intimacy is underrated. We don't do the hug "every" day just when we remember. It has brought us closer. It has been where I learned to accept comfort without expectation of something more. I relax to his touch now and he to mine to be honest.

Just my two cents worth likely worth only on one. Still I offer it as as a survivor who learning to be in healthy contact with my beloved husband of over 20 years.

with understanding,
Harmony

coconuts
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by coconuts » Sun Dec 29, 2019 10:48 pm

It really sounds so similar to mine and my husband's situation. I have the hardest time with intimacy and even when it is okay and I think things are going fine I can end up in the middle and it not be okay or even afterwards. And there aren't always answers. Last time we were intimate after a long stretch of none I thought everything was okay until after. Then the thoughts started spiraling and I started thinking and wondering and then I ended up cranky for a couple days after. I don't know there is one specific reason. I just think I'm not ready for that.

I have a hard time with any touch at all. Though funny enough I have been doing the 20 second hug thing. It takes forever sometimes lol. You don't realize until you are in the middle of it counting and breathing. I've been doing it with a couple of my kids but maybe I need to do that with hubs

Husband is super physical. I asked for no sexual intimacy and told him why. I also had a long talk with him about how I still needed physical touch because I needed to train my brain to be okay with just simple physical touch that wasn't meant to be sexual. The idea being that he can give me a hug and I need to know it's safe and not meant to lead somewhere. I actually gave my husband a whole list of physical touch items he can do. None of which he actually does. And when I do them he pulls away. Which sends my thought patterns off a million directions.

Just saying I can't explain the mind of a woman, the kind of a survivor. I just know it doesn't always make sense even to us. And it's not meant to be targeted towards our spouses. Unfortunately they just end up as collateral damage.

the husband
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by the husband » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:43 pm

Thank you both, Harmony and coconuts. You've given me a lot to think about.

Leaving sex aside, the physical intimacy type is difficult. For my wife, hugging and especially kissing is difficult. There's sort of a suffocating aspect of having our heads that close for that long that creeps her out. I've tried turning my head away during hugs, not breathing for the duration, etc.. Kissing for any length is right out. We could probably make significant headway on safe, prolonged hugs. That would be nice.

Massaging doesn't have that suffocating contact, so that's been something pretty safe, but it is complicated by also being part of foreplay. It doesn't have to be, but in the situation I described it was in context with everything else leading up to sex. We could probably expand on the non-sexual aspect of massage with a clear agreement that it's not going to lead anywhere. SHe's a bit less generous a masseuse than I am in terms of time and effort as it is now, but perhaps she's just trying to move things along.

I could be okay with less frequent sex if we had more frequent intimacy. I seem to require less contact than the average person, but I do need some in order to feel connected. I'm still coming around to the idea that I am worthy of affection, and it is difficult to advocate for myself for it.

the husband
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by the husband » Mon May 11, 2020 6:28 am

My wife is depressed again.

I started to feel it coming over the past week or so. There are many potential triggers: a girl our kids grew up with just passed away suddenly, the pandemic, work stress, lack of socialization, etc..

She spent a few days this week in bed, which was a strong indicator. Tonight she came home from work and unloaded a bunch of negative thinking. Suddenly she was sobbing over something that, while frustrating, was really not emotionally loaded - and I knew. Shortly after she wondered if she was getting depressed, and I owned that this did look similar to how previous bouts with depression began. I listened, reflected back, validated the several stressors, made supportive statements, and we circled back through what she would do tonight and tomorrow to nurture herself and start to address the depression. She had my full attention and active listening.

Then she said: "I'm sorry, I know you have a lot of stress too".. And I said something akin to "Meh" and made a gesture like "but this is important". SO not eloquent, but keep in mind it's 11:00 pm and we've been talking for awhile.

Then she said: "This is where you say 'It's going to be OK, and I love you." I did go to her, said what she asked, and attempted a hug, which she did not lean into.

THEN I remembered: This has happened before. I devote my time and energy actively listening and working to anticipate her needs, and then I feel that she turns on me. I used to get angry and take issue, but instead I turned away from my rejected hug, picked up her dishes and took them to the kitchen. She bade me goodnight (no hug) and that was that. She didn't say goodnight to the kids either.

This comes down to an essential issue for me: I invest a great deal of time and effort into her comfort and well-being, but she gives very little back at the best of times. I used to do a lot more for her, but I began to feel silly because my efforts were not reciprocated. Later I pared it down to things that she sort of reciprocated on, or that I just liked doing. These days I like doing fewer things. All this to say: she puts very little in our emotional bank account, but expects to make large withdrawals. I will give during the hard times, but what of the easier times? I may not have realized I was worthy at the beginning of our relationship - but now I know.

Her last depression lasted 18 months, during which she was unable to work or provide household (or any other) support. I'll need to look up my old therapist, I think. I felt victimized by her irritable depression before, but I'm not going to this time. I'll need to do some research to figure out how to deal with that one, and Ill share what I've learned here.

The kids were downstairs but heard enough to be concerned. Our daughter was worried that it was because she went down to do her homework rather than hang out upstairs, but my son had heard enough to conclude that it was about "work stuff", which was reassuring to them and close enough to the truth for now.

the husband
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by the husband » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:50 pm

My wife changed jobs about a year ago. It is a challenging job and a big change by anyone's standards. She gave herself a year and then she figured to use it as a stepping stone to the job she truly wants. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has changed the current job and her prospects of getting the next job. The current job has changed in a way that exacerbates a minor disability that she usually accommodates without any trouble, but now she feels disabled and incompetent. Her manager is not very interested in assisting her to be successful.

It is hard for her to be anything but excellent at her job, to feel disabled, to have her career path disrupted, and to be socially distant. She is becoming depressed. Spending more time in bed, getting lost on the internet, taking ages to complete simple tasks, and sleeping a lot.

I know that I need to listen and not advise at this stage (unless asked) but I must confess that I was deeply impacted by her last depression (18 months long) and I am not eager to slide back into that pit again. I have gone as far as to say "I won't mention this again, but have you considered __?"
I won't try to fool myself into thinking that's the best way to go about it. In the future I will ask what she thinks she could do about it, offer help if she wants it, or offer to make a suggestion if she's stuck.
Last edited by the husband on Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

Watercolor
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by Watercolor » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:52 pm

I wish I had the wherewithal to be a support on your thread. I don't want to hijack, but I do want to thank you for the amazing post you made on Viola's. I'm almost speechless. I admire your compassion and selfless attitude toward your wife. I was married for 10 years and my experience with a spouse re: intimacy struggles from CSA was dramatically different. My hat is off to you!!! Wow.

I hope your beloved wife will not experience a slide into lasting depression.

coconuts
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by coconuts » Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:14 am

I agree with watercolor.

I have spent quite a bit lately thinking of the burden I must be on my husband. The patience it must require of him to deal with me.

I do think yoy work so hard to regularly work to balance both yours and her needs and to set the boundaries on your needs while being mindful of hers constantly.

I think the current situation is difficult for everyone, but especially those with mental illness. As a whole a person who struggles regular with a mental illness like anxiwty or depression sort old just barely manages life. Sometimes appearing very confident but with a constantly little rumble below the surface. I've become more aware the last few tears of my ability to handle increased stress. Because I already have a level always there. When I add increased stress or issues it makes things so much harder to deal. There is a sense of hopelessness right now...there is no plan. If there is anything survivors want it is control. Control was robbed from us as children. We hold on to it now, cling to it with all our strength. When the world spirals out of our control it feeds back into that...those feelings of helplessness. The anxiety, depression, etc just overwhelms. I think of those circle of concern and circle of control diagrams. Right now. Our circle of control has been greatly reduced. The thing we have fought so desperately to expand is folding in on us.

I realized back in March I was falling apart again. I looked into meds again. I thought again about how to minimize the impact on myself and my family. I think if you go to wifey and say that you are concerned with how hard it was to watch her struggle last time, tell her that you want to be there to help her in any way possible. Tell her what you notice, what you've observed now and in the past. Ask if there is anything you can do to help, support, encourage, etc.
Coconuts

the husband
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by the husband » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:01 am

Watercolor: Just your response IS support. I know that someone is listening. As for hijacking, anyone can post whatever they like in any thread I generate so far as I'm concerned. At the risk of seeming self-important, I think I may have started the whole "____'s thread" here years ago, and I wish that I had found a more inclusive way to go about it. It's a bit quiet here in Loved Ones normally, and I didn't want to make a mess of threads all on my own. Thank you for your comment regarding Viola - I hope I have been of some use to her today, and maybe my experience will be of use in the future.

Coconuts, thank you as well. I suspect that your husband feels as I do: the burden is worth carrying. It's just that everyone stumbles sometimes. When I got home my wife told me that she had followed through on the steps necessary to move on with her job search. Unfortunately there was some initial bad news that I could tell felt like rejection, but was probably just a sign of the times. I told her that sometimes I find it helpful to take the actions I can in a given situation, and then let go, knowing I have done what can be done. I'm pleased that she was able to advocate for herself. I know it was hard for her: she eventually went to bed and watched TV until she fell asleep. I'll bet it's common among survivors to watch Law and Order SVU and crime documentaries - I think it must be comforting to see bad people caught and punished.

Watercolor
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Re: A Husband's story (formerly "the husband's story")

Post by Watercolor » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:09 pm

Thanks for your kind words. It's great to hear that she was able to take action, start the process. I hope she won't be discouraged by that initial feedback.

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