Seeking guidance on how to lead a hurting wife

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by RecoveringLion, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    This is a question for recovering PA’s and SO’s of PA’s.

    My wife, who is still very much hurting from my problems and behaviors has a tendency to make shame inducing comments fairly regularly. Some comments include “Y’all suck” while referring to men and the challenges we face. Others could simply be reminding me of the times I have failed in the past at an area I am trying to improve on regarding something totally unrelated to my addiction. Sometimes its expressing doubt in my ability to change despite the fact that I have changed so much and there is much evidence of it.

    I know she is hurting and her journey of healing is far from over, and I am okay with that. I am trying to figure out to what degree I should just take it and to what degree I should lead in this area and let her know that these comments are actually super discouraging and hurtful. They make it much more difficult to overcome my proclivity to distance myself from her instead of pursuing her. She’ll be the first to admit that she still struggles with disgust and intense anger towards me. She knows its wrong but will also admit that she feels contempt for any pain I feel in the healing process matters because it cant possibly come close to the pain she has felt. This only feeds into a very broken part of me that struggles to believe what I need, feel or want actually matters (and a lifetime of abuses from others that tell me that what I need, feel or want doesn’t matter).

    Need some guidance on this one. I choose to lead my wife, love her, pursue her, take care of her despite the intense anxiety, self hatred and depression I often feel overwhelmed by in this journey. I have just felt very discouraged as of late about it all, and looking for the perspective of others who have been through this and are further along.
     
  2. Maybe you should stop trying to lead her.

    I would think leading a wife should be out of the question until you've at least made it a year or two without P&M. I would say you lose your right to lead your wife for a period of time because you betrayed her with P&M.

    But having said that I'm not in favour of complementarianism. I think a marriage should be a partnership and egalitarian is better a form of a partnership than complementarianism. I think both should be in charge not just the man. I think we should be submitting to one another (it's not just a one-way system).

    @RecoveringLion you've done well to reach 250 days but you need to do more. You're doing a lot better than me but I've made a vow to myself to not date again until I make at least a year (if not two). So maybe stop thinking about leading until you make it two years.
     
  3. Queenie%Bee

    Queenie%Bee Fapstronaut

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    So , as an SO for over 2 decades with this shit heres my take . I read it somewhere and I’ll try to find it . The writer calls them “stones” . I know after first DDAY in 09 , I was soooo pissed but didn’t have an explosion. Instead I would throw “stones” some big some small . Like if had been awhile since we talked about it I’d throw a “reminder stone “ like ya that’s why you have a flip phone , or “ do I need to get you a babysitter too “ or simple things like “ are you ever going to mature “ in a half joking way . Or It would have NOTHING to do with the PA ! I found fault in a lot of the things he did . Gah that cycle lasted for a couple years , not all the time . It was out of FEAR . Like if I didn’t remind him then he would slip back .
    FWD to DDAY 2 ( almost decade later , he had never stopped using got a secret laptop ) this time was different. I had the explosion but then 6 months in , same dance , he stopped talking about it whatsoever so I started with pebbles , then stones then even bigger stones because HE WAS NOT LISTENING TO MY NEEDS . None of what I did was to on purpose make him feel bad . I expressly told him my needs for communication. A lot of the time his response “ it makes me feel bad about myself “ SO I STOPPED TALKING AND SHUT DOWN .
    But don’t you see that makes it about HIM . What I have said compared to what he’s DONE , is incomparable. I would suggest telling her how you really are feeling , and in turn she may REALLY tell you how she’s feeling . The question is can you handle it ? All we want is reassurance in words AND action . A second or third chance at the man we fell in love with . Please be patient with her and have an empathy that maybe you’ve never felt before . She’s hurt , she’s SCARED to get too close . MOST of the time I have ZERO control over my betrayal trauma symptoms, I guess much like when the PA is deep in it he doesn’t have much control either , but one is morally wrong and the other is a byproduct. Good luck with everything I hope all that made sense . From reading this and your point of view , I will certainly TRY to throw the stones out the window . I don’t want to do anything to cause him to go in the other direction .
     
  4. Kenzi

    Kenzi Fapstronaut

    I have been on my journey of abstaining from P&M myself, for going on 3 years and also as a SO.
    It has been a traumatic and turbulent ride.
    I would like to put my two cents here...
    And that is, I don't think you can "lead a SO through" betrayal trauma.
    Just BE there for her.
    Let the journey ebb and flow and simply make sure you are handling your Reboot to the best of your ability and Mending your marriage. Be honest. Be accountable. Have integrity. Give her as much communication as she desires within your relationship.
    But, just be there.
    That's it.
    If you have boundaries, don't break them.
    But you can't "lead her"
    You are not in charge of how she recovers.
    And she won't heal according to your timeline.
    Or even "along with" your recovery timeline.
    And you have to be OK with it.
    Good luck.
     
  5. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    Hey Wave Surfer, I appreciate your insight, However that will not work in my marriage. Its not about a “right” to lead but a responsibility that I have learned to rise to, and that my wife holds me accountable to. When I lead, she feels safer, more secure, and more able to flourish.

    I know its not popular these days, but my wife and I both are strong believers in complementarianism (which contrary to excessive misconception, and endlessly fickle and changing popular narratives, does not mean inequality). So abdicating my role as a man and husband for a few years is not an option.


    (Just for fun: Complementarianism as it should play out means as a Man, I take the initiative to work, invest, love, sacrifice, and give to my wife and family. I selflessly serve to provide in every way possible (emotionally, financially, relationally, spiritually, etc) to the point of exhaustion so that my wife has every opportunity to flourish, feel loved, supported, cherished, adored, and respected. In response, she does her best to trust that I am doing my best to serve, lead, and bring every kind of prosperity to my family, and puts forth her utmost to support, respect, and help me in doing so. There is no domination, subjugation, aggression, control or inequality when this is played out as it should be.)
     
  6. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    I have not suggested that part of leading means being in charge of her recovery, or healing according to my timeline.

    But I do completely agree with everything else you said. Thank you for you that.
     
  7. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    This was awesome and very helpful. Thank you. It’s a good reminder that I committed the sin and she is responding to it, and its going to take a lot of time. I’m okay with that. I think they key is learning to be mature and confident enough to get hit with the stones, and try to respond in as helpful a way as possible. Its a good reminder.
     
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  8. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    Dang man, this was awesome, thank you.
     
  9. I can understand your wife's behavior. I am also sometimes really tempted to remind my SO of his past mistakes that made me feel hurt because the problem is that they still hurt. But that doesn't give me the right to keep reminding him and make him feel shame about things he's already taken responsibility and apologized for. But I'm not going to lie that even though I know it's wrong, it still feels tempting to do so. It's like a slowly healing wound that you can still feel causes pain sometimes and you just need to express it, especially to the person that has caused the wound. Maybe let her know that it's not really fair of her - given that she's confronted you about your past mistakes already and you talked about them and promised to improve on them and keep showing her those improvements - to keep reminding you of the past and that it will make your recovery a lot harder. And I'm sure it's in both your best interests that you recover as soon as possible. I don't know if this helps but good luck to you.
     
  10. TryingToHeal

    TryingToHeal Fapstronaut

    So, can I ask... are you bringing this up regularly? Like do you try to ignore the PA by not bringing it up because you don't want to mess up a happy evening or whatever? Do you go days without bringing it up? I ask because it sounds like she may need to know that you really get that the PA effects her every minute of every day. These sound like reminders to you that she wants you to know she's still hurting and that it is your fault. She may need to know that you really GET that. If you address this regularly by saying hey can we talk about this, how are you doing with it, daily or weekly or whatever works, this may lessen. Us SOs often feel our PAs do not fully get the depth of pain they have caused us. My PA writes me every morning before starting his day, maybe something like that would help? That doesn't work for me because of some other issues personal to us (he continues to do it because he says it helps him), but it may help for you if she likes that sort of thing? Or bringing it up in the evening, ask her how she is, did she have any triggers that day, is there anything you can do to make things better, etc.
     
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  11. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    Thank you. Thats a really helpful perspective. I like the idea of writing a letter and making a point to communicate this more. I am a believer that every “bad” thing is simply the wrong route, intention or attempt at something “good,” so it makes sense that behind the behavior is a plea to be known and understood.
     
  12. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    Very helpful, thank you.
     
  13. TryingToHeal

    TryingToHeal Fapstronaut

    Yeah that may be the key, she just really wants you to get it. The letter thing is great. He got a journal and starting writing it (to me) every day before work. I used to love it, it was great, and it was something I just read, didn't have to respond to, because that can make it hard if she feels she has to answer to it or compliment you or whatever. He's done this since Jan 1, 2017 every day, so over a year and a half now.
     
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  14. Queenie%Bee

    Queenie%Bee Fapstronaut

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    Your welcome . You were just vulnerable with this . I thank you for stating how you FEEL when she does this . I’m still learning . I second what @TryingToHeal stated so perfectly ! As well as wanting the PA to UNDERSTAND the depth of the betrayal trauma we feel EVERY SINGLE EFFING DAY , if my SO goes weeks without saying a word , I feel like it’s happening again , even if it’s not . Us SO became accustomed to attaching the PA behavior during use ( detachment , arms length , SILENCE ) to after use as “signs” . Addiction thrives in the dark and we all know that . So when we feel “ in the dark “ we bring it to the light , albeit in not the perfect way .
     
  15. I can understand where you coming from because I used to believe in complementarianism. It's just in the last year or two I changed my mind. My ex's wanted to lead and I was willing to do so.

    I hope you take the time to care for yourself.

    img_2583-0.png

    One thing I'm learning in my recovery is the importance of taking care of myself. I'm no good to anyone if I'm full of bitterness, anger, hatred, fear, worry or stress. Maybe one reason why so many of us are addicted because we've never taken the time to care for ourselves. It's worrying you're working to the point of exhaustion. It's good to work but no can give anything if they have nothing to give. If a can car runs out of fuel no is surprised that it stops running.

    I think as this article points out complementarianism can hurt men. Of course, it's worse for women if the man is abusive (not that I'm saying you are), but it can hurt men because there's too much expectation of them. Because of the expectation, men refuse to be vulnerable and without vulnerability, there can't be intimacy between SO. I'm all for equality and that means women pull their own weight as well. It seems to me complementarianism gave you the rough end of the deal.

    I don't expect you to change your mind by just reading my post but I hope it will get people who believe in complementarianism to question it.
    Here's another article on how patriarchy pressures men:
    http://www.ashleyeaster.com/blog/patriarchy-pressures-men
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2018
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  16. RecoveringLion

    RecoveringLion Fapstronaut

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    Thanks, I appreciate it. I’ll read the article.

    The “to exhaustion” part was more figurative than literal. I dont mean for it to imply I dont take care of myself (I workout often, eat well, take as much personal time as I need, get enough sleep, have great friends, etc). What I was trying to express is that I dont make my main purpose in life to live for myself. I agree, complementarianism does put pressure on men, and it can hurt men, but so can anything. Something cannot be effective if it cannot also be counter effective (and destructive) when not handled properly.
     
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  17. Queenie%Bee

    Queenie%Bee Fapstronaut

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    I disagree a little with the word “pressure” my SO used to use this as an excuse . “ I’m under pressure to be the perfect man /husband “ I had NEVER done / said anything to make him feel that way . That was ALL on him . I’m the alpha , so if anyone was under pressure it was me . Pressure to be the wife , best cook , laundress , maid , taxi and my most important job MOTHER . AND hide his addiction and put it in box so I could still LOVE him . I did all that and then some WHILE owning businesses WITH him . Equality in marriage is a push / pull with different years needing the other step up . I think a lot of SO would agree , along with being betrayed , the expectations for US were very high . To BE the BEST self is in my opinion the simplest term we all heard growing up “ do unto others as you’ve want to be done to you “ treat how you want to be treated “
    Well I just want to not have my marriage feel like at any moment it’s going to crumble because of his PA , using , recovery or otherwise .
    You CAN do /be all those things . I’m telling you , take the pressure off and a lot of it comes naturally. To be flawed is to be human .
     
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  18. JustSadPorn

    JustSadPorn Fapstronaut

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    What have you done to shrink your own shame? It sounds like your wife's comments are lowering a bucket into a very deep well within you, and bringing up doses of something you'd rather ignore.

    Aim to dry out the well, rather than being angry at her for having a bucket.

    My husband is also wrestling with shame, which he's felt since he was a young child. He's getting a lot of out reading Brene Brown.

    I've accidentally triggered his shame response during recovery several times. I've said something I found completely innocuous (or even positive!), but it's been hugely painful for him. In one example, he said that he feels like his coworkers, "use him to dump their bad feelings," and that he wants to change that dynamic. I was trying to be encouraging, and said, "You might have to trade their affection for their respect. It's hard to respect a dump." He melted down.

    We figured out what triggered him in this case. He had used "dump" as a verb, but I used it as a noun. He heard that I, and maybe his coworkers, think he is garbage. From my perspective, I was mirroring his own words back to him in support of the change he wants to make. I was absolutely not trying to shame him. I think he deserves respect. Even after all the pain that his PA has caused, I don't think he's garbage. Why would I still be married to garbage?

    He took it so hard because deep down, HE believes that HE is garbage. That's the underlying belief that he needs to change.
     
  19. suntannedsailor

    suntannedsailor Fapstronaut

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    I'd say ... just don't be so hard on yourself and your wife. I feel a lot of tension in your relationship in terms of the need to control (perhaps to prevent from being controlled). Be soft.
     

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