New to Out of the FOG

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WearyHusband

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New to Out of the FOG
« on: July 15, 2021, 03:48:31 AM »
If anyone knows of additional Zoom support groups for spouses of partners with personality disorders, I'd be grateful to hear about them.

I found this forum on the recommendation of a friend. I've been married for 20 years, four teen kids. We've been sexless for the last six months at my wife's insistence/refusal. I'm lonely, frustrated, and weary. She won't allow me to touch her and she won't touch me.

When my wife goes into seasons of refusing all physical touch, it is accompanied by extensive berating, gaslighting, and replaying hurtful things I've said over the years repeatedly - sometimes stupid, hurtful things I said before we were married that I have extensively apologized for many times. I've never called her names, just said rude, insensitive things - inexcusable nonetheless. It's like she goes into this mental state where anything I've ever done that hurt her is her present reality. In the past, I've placated, apologized (hundreds of times), empathized, gone to therapy for my own anger and shame issues (never physically abusive). In the latest cycle, and after starting a CODA group and therapy specifically focused on Codependency, I began to stop placating her emotional withdrawal and verbal abuse. As soon as I began setting boundaries, she became more depressed and virulent in her verbal attacks. For the first time in 20 years, I'm learning not to argue or defend myself, or apologize for the thousandth time. I simply leave the room. Now our marriage is deteriorating, and I'm scared, but getting stronger and more courageous.

As I've reflected on how much I apologize, it finally occurred to me the massive vacuum of apologies I've heard from my wife over the years. She's often said things like, "
You don't communicate your feelings and tell me calmly when I've hurt you."
So the last couple years, I started working on that.
But when I would come calmly and say, "Honey, can we talk? Last night when you said ____, I felt hurt," she responds with some version of this scenario:
"Well, I'm sorry that you're feeling that way. But I am not responsible for your feelings. And what you are saying is an exaggeration. And there's context. You can't just come at me, accusing me and judging me. See, this is part of the problem, you don't see me accurately. You tear me down because you have an inaccurate picture of me in your head."
I leave feeling confused and hurt and wondering if I am oversensitive and how I can communicate better with her.

The last year, my wife began to label me as "abusive" and speak of how our previous counselors haven't understood the nature of "hidden abuse" and that one person in a marriage can be responsible for all the pain and dysfunction. She would say things like, "I've dealt with all my past trauma, so now all my pain is because of you." "What would you tell our daughter if she was married to someone like you?" "You've locked me in a pattern of abuse for 20 years!" "All our marriage problems are your fault." "You're not normal. Can't you see that?"

One of the hardest and shocking things that happened recently that scared me and was a wake up call for thinking that I may be married to someone with a personality spectrum disorder was when I calmly brought up the pattern of verbal berating and the incessant accusations of abuse that are vague and non-specific..  When I brought up the things she has said to me repeatedly and told her they are hurtful and not true, she told me that she she never said any of these things.  She literally has no memory of them. It isn't like she said these things once in an argument - these are serious accusations she has made and said repeatedly. She says I exaggerate and makeup stories about her. And that the stories I make up are part of the problem with our marriage - that I blame and judge and criticize her. So once again, my head starts spinning and I start to apologize for being critical of her, then I'm like, "Wait a second. She criticizes and judges me and says hurtful things and somehow the conversation has "flipped" and I'm being told that I'm criticizing and judging her?"

Patterns like this have happened over and over in our relationship. She gaslights me, then accuses me of gaslighting. It's absolutely bizarre.
I'm learning how dysfunctional this pattern is and how it was making me feel crazy.

For two months at the beginning of this year, as her narrative of how abusive I am increased, I tried to empathize and listen and understand. I could always see a grain of truth in what she was saying because I can think of the millions of times I've been selfish, or raised my voice in arguments, or been insensitive to her pain. I had significant immaturity and dysfunction I brought into our marriage from a pretty turbulent childhood and family of origin (that I've spent a lot of time unraveling in therapy in the last four years).  I think back on all the times I raised my voice in an argument, not knowing how to work out conflict in healthy ways. Throwing things against the wall (many years ago - has never been a pattern). I've changed a lot through therapy and my own spiritual and healing journey.

She has called me abusive SO many times - but when I ask her what I'm doing that's abusive, she has no answer. She begins replaying the same story of every hurtful thing I've said over the years - no matter how deeply it's been addressed, apologized for, etc. I told her, "I will not minimize anything I've done that's been hurtful to you. I take responsibility for loving you and growing as a husband and dad and being a good partner to you. But I will not tolerate being called abusive any longer. If you believe I'm abusive in a continual, ongoing pattern, you need to leave the marriage or we need to find a third party marriage counselor who can help." 

Thus far, she is refusing to go to a third party marriage therapist. I don't see any way forward without an objective person looking into our marriage dynamics. Our views of reality are so far apart. It baffles me that she is not willing to go to marriage therapy together. I think it may be because she doesn't want to be exposed. She's HIGHLY sensitive to criticism (but it's confusing, because she says she loves correction and working on herself. She says things like, "I'm always asking you to show me ways I can improve, and you almost never do)." She is, however, seeing a therapist by herself occasionally, though I have no idea what they discuss.

I've told her recently that I'm getting worn out and I don't think we can heal our marriage unless we get some help. I told her, "I am lonely. I need to hear words of affirmation. And I need physical affection - even if it's not sexual right now. (She won't hug or hold hands, for example.) She says, "I need those things, too! But our relationship isn't in that place right now."

I say, "I am willing to meet those needs for you. And I'm communicating what I need. So I'm confused when you say, 'our relationship isn't in that place right now. We haven't touched each other in six months, and this is a problem for me."

Our marriage has been highly chaotic. We spent four years traveling with our kids, all our possessions in storage. It was a great adventure, but I look back on it now and think of all the times we fought because I wanted desperately to stop and find a community to root in - but my wife never found a place she wanted to commit to - even after eventually traveling to all 50 US States. She loves travel and adventure, which I do love about her. At my initiation, we finally reluctantly agreed to choose a home near her parents (who left her to live by herself at 16, that made her vulnerable to a whole series of sexually abusive traumas).  We've been to therapy multiple times, but it breaks down whenever the therapist begins gently trying to address issues of my wife's history of abuse (before we were married) and facing the dynamics of how her upbringing affected her and how it affects her response to me. She becomes VERY defensive of how great her parents are (and they really are wonderful people, but now that I have teenagers, I can't imagine leaving a 16 year old girl to fend for herself in a new city).

I've recently joined a CODA group and am realizing and taking responsibility to recover from my Codependency. I don't know if my wife has a personality disorder - she's certainly highly resistant to seeking a diagnosis. When I've tried to gently suggest there may be some unaddressed past trauma affecting our ability to connect with one another and for her to experience hope and joy, she becomes angry and tells me I need a psychological diagnosis.

But I'm seeing so many patterns that are similar to what others describe who are married to people with NPD and BPD.

I hope my wife will change her mind and be willing to go to a third party therapist together. I've spent a lot of years in "magical thinking", believing that if I just said the right thing, acted the right way, apologized enough, changed enough, etc. that my wife and I would have a rich relationship. I am realizing how much I have not been living in reality.

I'm basically now working on improving myself and healing from Codependency, and trying to develop the courage to make a wise decision about determining if I can stay in the marriage by creating healthier dynamics (if possible, knowing it takes two to tango), or if it I need to leave the marriage. I am (and always have been) the sole income earner in our family.

I love my wife. I love my kids. I'm hoping for a positive change, one way or another. I'm getting really worn out. (Sigh. I intended to make this a few paragraphs introduction. If you got this far, thanks for reading.)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2021, 03:57:40 AM by WearyHusband »

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Bloomie

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Re: New to Out of the FOG
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2021, 12:14:13 PM »
WearyHusband - Hi there and welcome to OOTF.

Given the length of time you have been on this emotional roller coaster it is no wonder you are a 'weary husband'. I am so sorry things have gotten to the point of exhaustion for you in your marriage.

It is good that you have reached out in real life for support and recovery work through CODA groups and a therapist. I hope you find your time here in this community of people who truly do understand how destabilizing it can be to live with someone who does not make sense and does not take responsibility for their behaviors can be.

Maybe this has already been recommended to you by your T or CODA group, but a good foundational book that has been a great help to me is Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend.

Chapter 2 addresses how to apply the 10 laws of boundaries to marriage as you struggle with such important issues as a lack of intimacy and stuck communication patterns like the circular arguments you seem to be finding yourself in with your wife.

I cannot say enough about how much edification I get from this book that I read at least annually. Even just that one chapter redirects me to a plumb line of what a healthy marriage looks like and validates the determined push to establish and maintain stability in my own thinking and interacting within my marriage. It is so easy to be drawn way off course when dealing with someone who is, by their choices and manipulative manuevers, attempting to bypass consequences for their side of the street and the problems in the relationship.

When someone is taking advantage of our love and fidelity, loyalty, commitment to the relationship and family (and that may not be the case with your marriage, but it reads that way from the bit you shared here) and withholding, refusing to grow and work on their stuff it is a tough spot to be in.

Shifting your good work and efforts to what you can control, change, which is always and only yourself - as you seem to be doing - and finding a firm foundation of appropriate boundaries and building a toolbox of tools and knowledge is how I personally began to break free and figure out what was best and right for me going forward.

The toolbox and drop down menus above are a great resource. We also have an entire section of the forum where members share online resources that have been helpful to them. That is found here: https://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?board=45.0

Book reviews are found here: https://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?board=26.0

The biggest boost I have experienced is in participating, asking questions, and reading through the posts across the boards. There is something so helpful in seeing that we are not alone and these patterns of behaviors that are so mind boggling are not unique. Seeing how others have responded and dealt with very similar things to what we are experiencing is validating and like a big exhale from years of holding our breath.

I look forward to supporting you and I will see you out there on the boards!



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SonofThunder

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Re: New to Out of the FOG
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2021, 02:41:48 PM »
WearyHusband - Hi there and welcome to OOTF.

Given the length of time you have been on this emotional roller coaster it is no wonder you are a 'weary husband'. I am so sorry things have gotten to the point of exhaustion for you in your marriage.

It is good that you have reached out in real life for support and recovery work through CODA groups and a therapist. I hope you find your time here in this community of people who truly do understand how destabilizing it can be to live with someone who does not make sense and does not take responsibility for their behaviors can be.

Maybe this has already been recommended to you by your T or CODA group, but a good foundational book that has been a great help to me is Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend.

Chapter 2 addresses how to apply the 10 laws of boundaries to marriage as you struggle with such important issues as a lack of intimacy and stuck communication patterns like the circular arguments you seem to be finding yourself in with your wife.

I cannot say enough about how much edification I get from this book that I read at least annually. Even just that one chapter redirects me to a plumb line of what a healthy marriage looks like and validates the determined push to establish and maintain stability in my own thinking and interacting within my marriage. It is so easy to be drawn way off course when dealing with someone who is, by their choices and manipulative manuevers, attempting to bypass consequences for their side of the street and the problems in the relationship.

When someone is taking advantage of our love and fidelity, loyalty, commitment to the relationship and family (and that may not be the case with your marriage, but it reads that way from the bit you shared here) and withholding, refusing to grow and work on their stuff it is a tough spot to be in.

Shifting your good work and efforts to what you can control, change, which is always and only yourself - as you seem to be doing - and finding a firm foundation of appropriate boundaries and building a toolbox of tools and knowledge is how I personally began to break free and figure out what was best and right for me going forward.

The toolbox and drop down menus above are a great resource. We also have an entire section of the forum where members share online resources that have been helpful to them. That is found here: https://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?board=45.0

Book reviews are found here: https://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?board=26.0

The biggest boost I have experienced is in participating, asking questions, and reading through the posts across the boards. There is something so helpful in seeing that we are not alone and these patterns of behaviors that are so mind boggling are not unique. Seeing how others have responded and dealt with very similar things to what we are experiencing is validating and like a big exhale from years of holding our breath.

I look forward to supporting you and I will see you out there on the boards!
  :yeahthat:

I also highly recommend the book  ĎStop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissistí by Fjelstad.  You may just find yourself in that book and have a lot of Ďa-haí moments as you read.   Welcome and sorry you are experiencing this in your life.  I am 30 years married to my uPDw, and so can empathize. 

SoT
Proverbs 17:1
A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

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Dat2102

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Re: New to Out of the FOG
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2021, 05:28:48 PM »
Welcome. And thanks for the candid introduction. I am also new here, so I donít have much if any advice. Iím still coming to terms with my spouse, and her behaviors. I too have experienced sex being monetized and weaponizedóto the extent that itís available or withheld based on my behavior. Iíve also been accused of being abusive; usually during arguments that can get quite heated; or when sheís pressing my buttons to get me riled up. Iíve learned to walk away, which of course infuriates her even more. I see it as some sort of ďdrama addiction.Ē The frustrating thing is that in her family, itís normal to be in complete chaos. There are multiple PD individuals in her family.

Iím going to check out the recommended books. They sound helpful.

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WearyHusband

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Re: New to Out of the FOG
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2021, 10:38:39 PM »
Bloomie, SonofThunder, and Dat, I really appreciate your replies. It is very encouraging to connect with others who have experienced their own drama in relationships. Bloomie, I read Boundaries years ago, but it sounds like I need to dive into it again now that I'm finally realizing how afraid I've been and acquiesced and placated and am just now learning to set boundaries. I've been reading Darlene Lancer's books on "Dealing with a Narcissist" and her other Codependency material. She also has several articles on her website outlining frequent dynamics that occur between CoDependents and a significant other with various PD's and ways to begin changing the patterns. It's been very helpful. 
Blessings to all.