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Struggling for Direction- Advice Welcome

Discussion in 'Separation and Marriage Restoration' started by Joyfully_Broken, Jul 17, 2019.

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  1. Joyfully_Broken

    Joyfully_Broken New Member

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    First and foremost, thank you deeply, for sacrificing your time to read this post. I will be as brief as possible to honor that.

    I've been married for 10+ years and met online when we were teens. Thought it would be a success story, and perhaps still could be, but the mountain we are facing has not moved. I've been in counselling for most of my life, and still am in it, but hoping to gain some insight from those wiser than me.

    I came from a shoddy childhood with a borderline personality disorder parent, which I did seek aggressive counseling for right out of the gate. The behaviors I tended to have are no longer there (one was compulsive/random lying as a survival mechanism), but the fight to self-correct was definitely one of the focuses early on in our relationship. I fear he didn't get as much attention as I. As the years went on, I began to think about marriage. He was a guy who struck me as very smart, a proclaimed very legalistic christian, and protective of me. Of course, as anyone with an abusive childhood knows, the desire for these traits tends to result from a weaker father figure. As such I thought he was a "good fit" at the ripe age of 20 and started hinting at marriage.

    His response was for me to back off, because if I pressured him into marriage he would resent me for our entire relationship.

    That was probably the first big red flag that I foolishly decided to ignore. There were others that followed, such as him somehow convincing me that I didn't actually "need" an engagement ring. After marriage, he seemed to slowly start to be a more concentrated version of himself. Any self control, empathy, love, and kindness was rotting away, and what was left was a man who was hurt and bent on making sure I knew it. Then came constant criticism, belittling, dismissing, and it seemed no matter how hard I danced it was never hard enough. His behavior got worse, I internalized, and we spiraled, until I found what boundaries actually were and the extreme behavior was stopped. He is a very angry, moody, bitter, and spiteful person and it breaks my heart because you can just *see* how broken he feels inside. Then his narrative slowly started to change when I started voicing what his behavior has been like, as suggested by our then-counselor. At the time he had been giving me the silent treatment for about a year and a half- I told him what I was seeing, that he literally hasn't acknowledged my presence for a year and a half, and his response was that I was making it all up.

    It was weird, but then I began to wonder if I was seeing things right. I used to lie when I was younger, so maybe I was not remembering things right. He told me I was being "too sensitive." I loved him and valued his opinion as a smart Godly man so I considered that to be likely true.Then things started happening.. over and over again, for years... and he would tell me none of them happened. I started keeping a daily log of everything that happened that day, just so I didn't feel like I was going insane when he told me I was "being delusional again." This kept happening until a couple of years ago when he told me the "marriage was over" and he was with me "purely for legalistic reasons since I'm a Christian." I asked what it would take for restoration, and he said for me to "come to terms with my mental problem" that has caused issues in our relationship. I asked what I could change, and he said to accept that my reality is "not reality."

    I'm not sure where to go with this. I don't accept his reality. I feel like I do have a right to my own voice. He's since moved to a completely separate area of our residence. He said the thought of being close to me or spending time with me makes him feel ill.Last year he started filling out separation paperwork but never finished it. I'm not sure what to do. We are in counseling, but they are grasping at straws at the moment.

    That said, appreciate any experiences or insight, or just encouragement. I am no less broken nor contributed less to the issues than my husband. But God is a God of love, I'm just not sure how to see that here.
     
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  2. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Are the two of you being counseled by the church?
     
  3. Joyfully_Broken

    Joyfully_Broken New Member

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    Thank you so much! Glad to have found this place.

    Yes, we are both very involved in our church, and have met with our pastor. He advised to seek counseling with the person we are seeing now.
     
  4. Mel333

    Mel333 Active Member

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    It sounds like he's gaslighting you and yes, it's not a healthy relationship.

    God is love yes, but the bible does say to not be unequally yoked with an unbeliver. 2 Cor 6:14.

    It doesn't sound like your husband has any love to give. The moment you pointed out all his issues, that he cannot face up to, he punishes you with silent treatment to deflect his issues. I don't think he wants to change either.

    It is good you are attempting to repair however.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
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  5. Mel333

    Mel333 Active Member

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    .
     
  6. topher694

    topher694 Go Turtle!

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    Last time I gave advice on a situation like this I got considerable grief for it, so instead I'll say this: I truly hope it works out well for you. I have personally seen some marriages in terrible shape completely and miraculously restored... I hope that is of encouragement.
     
  7. Endeavourer

    Endeavourer Well-Known Member

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    Joyfully, there are many thoughts I have about your situation, and particularly that you must set boundaries against this behavior.

    I can describe the how-to's for the boundaries in a bit, but first wanted to address this: the description of your husband's behavior indicates to me that he may be having an affair or indulging in some other sexual addiction. Have you seen any signs of this?

    Blessings and hugs,
    E.
     
  8. Joyfully_Broken

    Joyfully_Broken New Member

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    Thank you all very much for your insight and encouragement -- means more to me than you know. Feels weird to post a "hail mary" on a random forum, but it seems to bring some objectivity to a situation I've admittedly been overprocessing in my mind.


    E., completely agree about implementing boundaries, especially when a person has a tenancy to lash out at anyone just because you've "come too close to their cage." The boundaries (thanks to the Boundaries book) I managed to implement reduced the majority of bad behavior where I wouldn't necessarily classify it as abusive anymore.I just don't like it. He knows if he yells or calls me names, I'm not going to sit there and "take it"-- I will leave the conversation. He's also gotten progressively more upset because I've maintained a "neutral" posture and expression, and he admittedly keeps trying to get a rise out of me so that I can feel what he feels. However, he knows he can only push so hard on this front before I walk away. I know there are other boundaries need, so something I will look at more closely. Any suggestions and thoughts are welcome :)


    He is a self-proclaimed believer, baptized about 3 years ago, and what I would consider a very legalistic Christian. While I can see where his behavior would hint at sexual immorality or addiction, I (thankfully) don’t see evidence for that. Overall, the principles he has created for his own behavior I would argue tends to be stronger. He holds himself to a high standard of "doing things right" even at the cost of his own well-being sometimes. It was one of the things that initially attracted me to him- he was a seemingly self-disciplined God-seeking man. One example would be going to the store in the middle of the night because he feels a good parent would provide a treat in his kid’s lunch, and he discovered there wasn’t a treat in their lunch for the next day.


    Unfortunately, he has his own justice system, which in his mind is supported by scripture as well. In the example above, the next morning he would talk about how I wasn’t being a good or loving parent by not buying a treat for their lunch the last time I was at the store. It almost feels like I'm married to a modern-day Pharisee? While I've been buying book after book on how to better understand him, self-reflect, and work on our marriage, he’s been watching movies every night, all night.. for years.. I just don’t see that self-discipline in our marriage.

    I've never met anyone else like this, so it's difficult to navigate-- so I really appreciate all of your wisdom and insight.

    - Joy
     
  9. Poppyseed78

    Poppyseed78 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm sorry you're going through this. I'm praying for things to improve for you. However, he sounds really abusive and narcissistic. As I'm sure you're aware, children who grew up with cluster-B parents often end up with spouses who are also cluster-B. His gaslighting is really alarming. Trying to make you feel crazy is incredibly abusive and dangerous to your well-being, and the prolonged silent treatment is very detrimental to your mental health as well. It seems that he can't stand it if you disagree with him at all, so he demands that you accept his "reality," and when you don't (as anyone would and could not), he punishes you by calling you crazy, ignoring you, and withholding any civil conversation. It seems even his "good deeds" are actually very performative and used as a tool to insult you (such as buying a treat for the kids' lunch but then criticizing you for not doing the same). He is a textbook narcissist, and this kind of personality is very resistant to change, as I'm sure you are aware.

    I'm glad you're enforcing boundaries and not reacting emotionally to his insults and provocations. However, he will likely try other tactics to try to get you to react and "lose your cool". Such people thrive on making their partner upset, they seem to feed off it. I highly doubt couples counseling is going to help, since usually all it does is teach the abuser new ways of manipulating. And joint therapy tends to approach relational discord as a "communication" problem, when what you have here is an abuse problem. All the communication in the world won't fix that. And inherent in this kind of counseling is also the theory that "it takes two," where both parties have areas to improve upon. This just emboldens the abusive partner to blame the other partner even more.

    That all being said, if separation is not an option for you, then I hope and pray that things improve. I'm really sorry he treats you this way, it is not loving at all. You deserve to be treated with respect.
     
  10. FreeinChrist

    FreeinChrist CF Advisory team Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    MOD HAT

    This thread is closed at OP request.
     
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