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Posts Tagged ‘dysfunctional marriage’

PhotobucketYesterday, I shared the history of my marriage. Today, I am going to talk about what it is like today.

In 2003, I started having flashbacks and entered into therapy. It has been a long and painful process that has unlocked my capacity to enjoy and savor life. Sadly, hub has not come along this healing journey with me, even though I did invite him into it twice. Hub married such as messed up woman for a reason – he has his own issues. To have chosen someone as messed up as I was gives you an indication of the level of his own baggage.

Hub does not want to deal with his own stuff. He wants to stay in denial with me playing the role I played for so many years. Our dynamic was this – He would be miserable unless his environment was completely predictable in the way that he wanted it, and it was my job to shelter him as much as possible from the unpredictability of life. His mother did this for him as a kid, and I took over as his wife. Above all else, hub was not to be inconvenienced. Life must go as he expects it to go, and it was my job to mitigate any circumstance in which it did not.

I’m done playing this role, and hub cannot handle the “messiness” of life without me shielding him from it. Also, his biggest trigger is money, and the stock market and economy are things I cannot control even if I wanted to. That has kicked off depression in him (his mother suffered from depression, so there is likely a strong genetic component involved) that has been getting worse and worse. He is disengaging from life, including my son and me, more and more.

Meanwhile, I am in a place where I am ready to embrace life. I have worked very hard to reach a place where I can experience my emotions, and I am working toward staying more and more present. I am married to a man who is becoming more and more absent, sleeping 12 hours a day and living in his head or working when he is awake. This is not a good combination.

Most of the stories I read, whether they are in books or personally shared online on a message board, etc., tell of couples splitting up after one person heals from child abuse. That used to stress me out and depress me. I have endured enough loss in my life – I didn’t want marriage to be added to the list of losses. Also, I meant my wedding vows, and I also have a 10-year-old child who I don’t want to have to bounce back and forth between two homes.

However, the question becomes how does a marriage stay afloat when one person is reaching out and embracing life while the other person is shutting down and fleeing life? How do you keep a partnership going when you have grown so different? I have no answer to these questions.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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PhotobucketThe Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is on Saturday, and I have been slammed with more tutoring requests for Wednesday and Thursday. I want to pound out at least one blog this week, so here goes…

One of the harder issues for me to deal with after child abuse is marital issues, specifically dysfunctional marital issues. As my therapist has pointed out to me, I had nobody modeling or telling me what to look for in a spouse when I made a decision about who to marry.

I grew up in an abusive household, and my parents’ marriage was completely dysfunctional. They led separate lives – my father worked and/or traveled for work all the time, and my mother was obsessed with her version of religion. (My father was an atheist.) My sister and I grew up in two different families – the version when my father was actually home and the version when he was gone. He was mostly gone during my teen years up until his death.

I was raped in college, so I latched onto a boyfriend to protect me. I then transferred colleges, where I was raped again and then latched onto another boyfriend to protect me. The only requirements I had for boyfriends was that they didn’t rape me and seemed interested in me. That’s pretty much it.

I met hub in law school, my next stop at a school. We started dating a month into school, and I was never raped there. He was very mature/responsible compared to our peers, and he was the most predictable person on the planet. After a lifetime of having to be hypervigilant about what was coming next, this predictability was a relief. We married straight out of school despite the fact that we had next to nothing in common other than a law degree. Marrying him kept me from having to move back in with momster since I couldn’t find a job.

Now, my conscious reasons for marrying hub were not this calculated. I did love him. In fact, my host personality was absolutely crazy about him. Other parts of myself – parts of which I was unaware at the time – tolerated him as a means to safety. Hub never, ever pressured me for sex. He completely respected that I was not interested in intercourse until marriage, and we were together over 2-1/2 years before we married. So, he definitely has some good qualities about him.

Here’s the problem – I am no longer an abused little girl willing to make any sacrifice to stay safe. Our relationship was built upon me doing whatever he wanted, however he wanted, with no objections because I wanted him to stay and keep me safe. The one exception (which came as a shock to him) was my insistence that we have a baby and, when that didn’t work biologically, that we adopt a baby. Other than that, for well over a decade, I was a Stepford wife, always giving him his way in every area other than in becoming a parent.

More tomorrow…

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