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how to get my wife to talk to me

 
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farmboy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:47 pm    Post subject: how to get my wife to talk to me Reply with quote

Hi ,
My wife who I have been with for 20yrs told me about 5 yrs ago she was abused as a child and really hasn't said much to me since. Basically dropped a bomb shell on me and left it at that. Shocked
Recently i have gotten a few words from her about it and thats all. She told me it was her mothers boyfriend .She also told me its a part of her she doesn't want me to see.
I wondering how I can get her to open up more and talk to me about it. I know I can't force her to talk, but reading some of the posts here people seem to feel better about talking about their abuse and are able to open up more.
I'm not looking for any gory details, but i need her to tell me how she is feeling and whats going on in her head if I'm ever going to be able to help her heal and deal with this.

Were both in our early 40's .
To my knowledge she hasn't told a soul except for me and I don't think she meant to tell me ,but it slipped out in and argument.

Her mom and dad have died over the last 7 yrs and her step dad who I think is the abuser (she denies it) is dead .

I feel so sad when I think she is trying to deal with this all alone. To be soo alone pains me.

Farmboy


Last edited by farmboy on Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:35 am; edited 2 times in total
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey farmboy!

I'm sorry to hear about your wifes abuse.

I hate to say it, but if she's not ready to talk, there's not much you can do. However there are some things you can avoid doing. That might make it easier for her to come to the point of ever talking about it.

1. Don't be overemotional about it. This includes anger at her abuser, this includes shock.

2. Don't make allowances from normal expectations because of her abuse. She's an adult and deserves to be treated as such.

3. Tell her you're open to a conversation about it, but that you'll respect her right to keep quiet about it if she so desires.

4. Avoid in any way laying the blame at her door. This is trickyer than you might think. Remind yourself that in all likelyhood she's blaming herself for the abuse and has been instructed to feel that way by her abuser.

5. Don't make promises you can't keep.

Aside from her not talking about it, is her history in any way an influence on your marriage?

Ivonne
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peacesignsandsmiles
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am sure that this is hard for you. I am a survivor and I have a boyfriend and although he knows about what happened he doesn't know about it. I refuse to tell him anything real about it, feelings or facts. It is hard to talk to someone you care about in a loving relationship way. Imagine talking to your wife about a past sexual experince of yours, now imagine it was an experince you felt trapped in and did't want. Encourage her to talk to someone, a therapist. She does need to talk to someone but I would be shocked if you were ever that person. Sometimes the best way you can be there for her is by not being there. I know what probably doesn't make sense to you but. Good luck and just understand that she is not choosing the way this makes her behave.
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farmboy
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Ivonne and peacesignsandsmiles for your replies.

Ivonne i do the things already that you have suggested .

When she told me about 5yrs ago I never mentioned it again to her. I told her when she told me that i would be there for her and when she was ready to talk i would listen. but that was 5 yrs ago and thought it was time to talk this summer ,but she shut me down.
We were having a heart to heart talk 2 weeks ago and i thought i would mention it again and she did give me a tidbit or 2. but very little.

I have a question for the 2 of u and anyone else that reads this.

Her mom and dad divorced when she was 3 and to my knowledge her mom met up with her then to be stepdad when she 5. they married when she was 8-9. I was close to her mom when she was alive and i don't recall her ever talking about any other man in her life other than her 1st and 2nd. husbands.

Now I thought it was her stepdad that was the abuser, but my wife says it wasn't. it was an old boyfriend of her moms. before her stepdad and mom were together and on and off after. (her mom and stepdad would fight and break up and then get back together. both were alcoholics.)

So i'm wondering if it was possible for her to see her stepdad as both her mothers' boyfriend and her stepdad. I was thinking if the abuse started before her mom married him and then when she married him saw him as the father figure who helped with homework etc.. but at other times was seen as the monster.?? hope this wasn't too confusing... Do you know what i mean ? she won't admit to herself who did the abusing. or is there this other man??

Peacesignsandsmiles I thank you for your insight from a survivors point a view.

Ivonne I'm not sure i understand what you mean about "is her history in any way an influence on your marriage? "

Do you mean does the abuse affect our marriage? Yes i wne t thruogh all the symtoms of her falling asleep on the couch instead of coming to bed and a big lack of intimacy.
My work keeps me away for long periods of time and before christmas i was away for 4 monthsand I came home for 3 weeks at christmas and would you believe that I didn't get once a hug and kiss and told that she was glad that i was home !!!
That sure makes a husband feel special......
We have a very good marriage I must admit. except for the closeness part.
But as a man I need to be shown that I'm loved too . i need to be held kissed ,hugged etc... I show her constantly and that is why i find it hard to believe that she won't talk to me about her abuse.
I have no doubt she loves me but I still would like to be shown once and a while...

Sorry for going off in all directions, but I have so many questions and basically no answers
Thanks,
farmboy


Last edited by farmboy on Sat Apr 18, 2009 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ivonne
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is what I was wondering about... Wink

Rather than talk about the past of which she obviously shies away, I'd suggest talking to her about the things that are bothering you about her behavior now. (I'm not sure if you do or don't)

I believe it is possible since the abuse happened at such a young age that she's seperated the boyfriend from the stepdad aspects in her mind and they exist as seperate entities. A childs mind is incredibly flexible in trying to make sense out of things.
However it's far more likely that there was another man involved, or alternatively, that she's not willing to point the finger to her stepdad for reasons of her own at this point.
Quite often there's shame attached to the affectionate relationship that the child has to the abuser. Like somehow that makes it the childs fault, where in reality this is exactly what the abuser takes advantage of. A childs need for affection and possitive attention is what makes the child esspecially vulnerable to an adult with malicious intent.

Also, often a first reaction of others when learning about the abuse is to dehumanize the offender. To say things like "what kind of monster would do such a thing". A reaction that is understandable and yet... this is often someone the child loved and trusted. Family or someone they looked to for guidance. This means that calling him a monster is an attack on someone they valued, trusted, loved even...

The abuser offers something that the child needs, this is the "hook". It also means that as an adult you have to deal with that what you got from them was bait, not actual sustenance. I myself thought for 10 years after the abuse had ended that he had really loved me. It took some difficult realizations in therapy to admit that he never did. The painful truth was that for years I desperately needed to believe the illusion that he loved me or else there was noone who had cared about me at all.

We do what we can to survive.

Ivonne
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farmboy
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ivonne,

Thanks for your insight it is very insightful.
The thing my wife does is to pretend everything is ok when I can tell that it is not. I wish she could tell me when she is having a tough day or week etc....
Like when when i want to be close and make love and she says "ok but after my tv show is over" or " when I 'm done doing......" and then I fall asleep and wake up in the morning and she asleep on the couch downstairs.
that bothers me and not that she didn't want to and avoided but that she can't say not tonight because i'm not really comfortable with it to nite or what ever feelings she gets when i ask. Another question I have is I can understand not wanting to make love very often when we were first together but after 10, 15, 20 yrs its the same. my feelings are "its me babe don't be afraid !"
I don't want to come off as self centered but these are the questions I have. and she doen't offer any answers and I've looked over the internet and can't find the answers to my questions. Thats why I joined this forum. hopeing with a mixure of survivors and partners i will hopefully get some answers.

Another reason I believe her stepdad is her abuser is since we first moved in together she had a picture of him and about 6yrs ago she had a breakdown where she was in bed for several days crying and nobody knew what was wrong and finally got her to the Dr. and he gave her some antidepressant and she came around then a yr later she told what it was that she saw this "old boyfriend "of her mothers out 1 nite when she was with her friends. she would have been in her mid 30's at the time. I read somewhere that women in their 30 have these remembering experinces when all in their life seems to be going good. So i don't know if she did see him or if the memories came back on their own. Back to the picture part of my story - since then or about that time I havent seen that picture of him. I asked her just recently where the picture went and she said she didn't know where it was or went. I went looking for it and found it packed away in a storage box. I never told her i found it.
Another reason I have doubts in this "old boyfriend" is when her mom died 8 yrs ago he wasn't at the funeral or wake. But I guess if he did abuse her he might not show for that reason. But i would think he would have been missed by other family members as to why he wouldn't have been there.
I don't remmeber anyone saying that "moms old boyfriend so and so wasn't there."
Also when her stepdad died very suddenly when she was about 19 - 20 she lost a lot of weight to the point that she was extremly thin, she bought her clothes in the childrens store . And remained thin until i met her and over the course of time put it back on. she wouldn't even go into the wake to see him and I know that because her mom told me also.

I just hope that someday she will answer some of these questions.
Ivonne if you have any more insight on any of the above feel free to let me know. Or anyone else that can relate to what I've said please let me know.

thanks again,

farmboy
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Wir sind Wir
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are times I feel like my wife overcompensates, comes to a conclusion, and keeps saying the same talking points. It's almost like there isn't a person behind the body talking.
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Marmor
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PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am where your wife is. I'm in my 40's. Abused for years. Been married around 20 years. I have told my husband SOME, but not much. Frankly, I do NOT wish to discuss my abuse with a male, and frankly, in my case, I don't find him to be a sympathetic ear, through he would consider himself to be one. He has said enough things that I doubt that I could ever tell him all of it in the contexts that things matter to me. It could just be that she has limits on how she could discuss this with a male at all. She may feel stupid and petty that she allows something from that far back to still hurt her. There is shame, and guilt, even though rationally, we may know that we are not guilty, abusers keep victims silent with guilt and threats. I hope that she can overcome this.

Even in a long term relationship, it still can be very difficult to decide to allow someone to touch you. If there is any pressure, it can be worse. It can make us feel less in control. Then, if she reads a typical marriage or sex manual, it tells women that men NEED sex, and that we should just go ahead and do it, even if we are not in the mood, or else it is our fault if men cheat. Gee, as sexual abuse is about power, having 'authorities' tell us to just lay down and take it is like being abused all over again.

There are some similarities to mourning a death. Have you ever THOUGHT that you were through with the big part of mourning someone, and then you stumbled across something trivial that you would associate with that person? "Oh, strawberry cheesecake, I should get that! Jane LOVES strawberry cheesecake!" Then, the realization that you lost Jane makes you an emotional basket case, over pastry! Then you yell at yourself inside about crying over cheesecake. (Yeah, the additional pressure of yelling at yourself inside is always helpful. <sarcasm>) With her abuse, there will also be stupid triggers, things that no one else would notice, or care about. Some days she just WILL be a mess.

I wish you luck in trying to work through this together. I'm no where near cleaning up the mess between my ears.
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farmboy
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Marmor for your insight,

Since i first posted this post we have come along way in communicating. We have had a sort of heart to heart talk or 2. It helps me understand what she may be going thru, but also I wanted her to understand that this is just not about her , that once she married me it became my problem also so to speak.
How things impact me and how am i supposed to feel when i get shrugged off or when i see she is avoiding me. Whether you see or or not there is alot of mixed signals that we as spouses see and sometimes have us or me really not feeling loved. I sit feeling helpless in what to do, when there is really nothing I can do.
She has to want to help herself, she is the one that has to be able to overcome her feelings and look for help from a therapist. I can only look on and give support when she asks for it. ( she has asked me for some talk time once in over 20 yrs we have been together)

I know I'm going to get some flack for this next remark , but it is also selfish on her part not to try and get help, as hurtful as it maybe to have to relive the abuse in a therapists office, but in order to get this behind her she has to do it to live a healthy life . I see her as becoming bitter and I also see her as being preoccupied that she is not functioning in a healthy way. I work away from home alot and was away alot last winter and when I came home in the spring I came home to a different wife, one that is very unsure of herself and being overwhelmed . She has phoned me so many times this past spring and summer asking me what she should cook for supper that it got very irritating. I would wonder to my self, "how am I supposed to know what to cook when she is sitting in the kitchen looking at what there is to cook!" We have been married 18 yrs and she now needs me to tell her what to cook??? Not only the cooking, but keeping the house cleaned , and laundry was getting to the point where it wasn't getting done in a timely matter. She only works 3 hrs a day so its not like she is working a 10 hr day and tired from working all day.

I have educated myself alot in abuse and i suggest that you try and get your husband to do the same. It helps to understand , but it only goes so far. I also have met a great person here on this site who i message quite alot and she helps me understand what maybe going on with her, but she can tell me how it has affected her .
I wish my wife would just open up a little more and tell me when things aren't going well, but she doesn't. We talked this winter when i was away and she said she would like to talk to someone. Then here about a week ago I asked her how things were going , she said everything is fine,but hasn't made any attempt to contact the local sexual abuse centre. I have offered to go with her to walk her thru the door and then i would leave, but she will have none of it. I know I can't force her so i don't push it. She has to want to do it.

Anyways thanks for your comments.
Hang in there, hope it all works out for you.

Farmboy
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kosherpickles
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Farmboy

I was in that position a few years ago. After i got married i had a flood of repressed memories that came to me, and though my husband was wonderful and supportive, I didn't want to talk about it. I have found myself making the same excuses (avoiding sexual conflict) because I love my husband and i want to be with him intimately, but at the same time I am dealing with the internal conflict of what I went through and I don't know how to tell him that. Maybe she is facing the same sort of thing? I was literally losing my mind, and my husband told me I had to get some help. We talked about it and I got on medication and counseling for the issues I had, however I am still facing repressed memories that are still resurfacing.
I think its great that you are so supportive and willing to help your wife, and that is incredibly important. But the hardest thing about it is that you have to give her time. I know that for myself, before I could ever talk about any of the things I went through I needed time to think. And Honestly it was so hard to trust someone enough to tell anyone anything. Trusting someone is different than telling them all of those things, KWIM?
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