Archive for October 10th, 2011

PhotobucketI have recently written three blog entries about marriage after healing from child abuse:

Those three blog entries have generated a lot of comments, and many of those comments are very strong ones. Marriage after child abuse appears to be a hot topic that sparks a lot of emotion, and I am curious as to why. I have written about numerous difficult issues on this blog over the years, but few have gotten such a rise out of readers.

I wonder if the explanations are that marriage is about today (if you are married) versus childhood and that many child abuse survivors have really struggled in this area. What are your thoughts on this?

One reason I am so surprised by the comments is that I never asked for anyone’s opinion about what to do. I never said that I am planning on leaving hub or planning on staying. My goal was to explore another area of healing from child abuse as I was going through conflict in that area of my life.

I shared the process that I am going through, which included talking through the issue with my therapist. My therapist asked me to write a list of minimum requirements for feeling loved and supported in my marriage. I have not done anything with that list since my therapy session, but it helped me get an idea of what my needs were. (I am not good at identifying what my needs are, only that what I am doing now is not working.) Without hub even knowing about the list, he has been making an effort on his end doing things on that list. By having the list, I am more aware of the efforts he is making, which shows me what a good guy he is. Without the list, I might not notice some of the positive things he is already doing.

I also never said that I am a perfect wife and he is a terrible husband. I am painfully aware of my shortcomings as a wife, most of which stem from having been abused as a child. Nobody modeled for me what to look for in a spouse. I grew up in so much chaos that I chose a man who is very stable and predictable. The same characteristic that drew me to him at age 20 (doing the same thing the same way every single time) is the same characteristic that drives a wedge now. I have changed too much for things to stay the way they were when I was 20.

Perhaps readers are reading more into what I wrote than what I intended. My goal was to explore the challenges in marriage after healing from child abuse because there are many. Hub and I have been married for almost 20 years, so we have already beaten many of the odds. Enough has worked for almost 20 years to keep us going. I have yet to meet a couple that feels 100% great about the marriage every single day. It is normal to go through periods of distance and periods of closeness in marriage. That’s where the commitment comes in.

If you consider that roughly 50% of marriages end in divorce and that most books on healing from child abuse include a mention of the author divorcing after healing from child abuse, I think marriage after child abuse is a very important topic to discuss. I tried to find statistics online for how many couples divorce after one goes through the healing process but was unable to find this information. Based upon the numerous mentions of divorce in books on healing from child abuse, my guess is that the number is sadly far greater than the national average.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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