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Question
Posted by: Confused | 2007/05/30

I want to mend my marriage

My husband and I have been married (second marriage) for 12 years. He has 2 kids (boys) from his previous marriage and I have 3 (girl, boy, girl). They are all now independent and self-supporting. My husband has always resented my children (I get on very well with his boys). He has consistently refused to become part of a new family. My son had a drug problem which was corrected through rehabilitation, but for 10 years my son was not allowed in the house. He would visit me and we would have to talk outside the gate. My husband refused to even acknowledge his existence. I have spent my entire marriage torn between my husband and my children, never knowing when one of them would do something or say something that would send him into a fury. He also drank quite a bit and although he never became physically violent, there would always be an issue that would arise and he would go into a sulk or pick a fight with whatever kid had supposedly trodden on his corns. I have lived in a constant state of trying to maintain some contact with my kids without making my husband feel that he's being pushed aside and made to feel like a visitor in his own house - which was never, ever the case. We tried to draw him into our family and make him part of it, but he fought us every inch of the way and refused to become even remotely emotionally involved. The final straw came about 2 weeks ago when my eldest daughter (30) came home on leave from working on cruiseliners. My youngest daughter (26) was staying with us for the birth of her second child. So now we have eldest girl, youngest girl, a toddler and a newborn. Husband started imbibing again and took offence because the youngest daughter went into the kitchen to get a glass of water while he was busy with supper (he often organises supper for us). He flounced into the bedroom and then stormed out and attacked the girls verbally, blaming them for all the inconveniences we are suffering at the moment (chronic shortage of cash and inability to pay the mortgage). Well, that did it for me. The lights went out inside and I was quite ready to walk out. However, I moved into the garden cottage and after a few days he asked if he could speak to me. He told me that he had done things in his past of which he was not proud and which have been haunting him ever since in the form of nightmares. He has been unable to form any emotional attachment to outsiders because he is too terrified that he will let something slip about his past, they will find out and hate him for it. This is why he has kept his emotions on such a tight rein and refused to let anybody in. He told me of the things that he's done and they're not pretty, but they don't affect me because it was all before he met me. He asserts that he has now faced his demons and got rid of them. He can now sleep without nightmares and has become extremely loving. Previously he could never even give me a hug - it felt as if I was hugging a tree. Now he massages my back every night (I suffer with low back strain), there are meaningful hugs and he's trying hard to convince me that he's a changed man. I would love to believe it but I feel as if my emotions have been cauterised. I feel absolutely nothing for him except sympathy. We still chat and we can work together in harmony - there's no fighting, hatred or slanging matches at all, but no matter how hard he tries, I just can't seem to feel anything at all. Maybe it's just that I don't trust what he's told me, I don't really believe that an unburdening of the spirit could bring about this wonderful change. I can't believe him. Will I ever get over this and get some semblance of a marriage together again, as opposed to two good friends sharing a house?

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Our expert says:
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It sounds as though he might possibly be suffering from PTSD or some similar post-traumatic problem ; and the fact that he has amitted this, and shared his secrets with you, is promising --- but he needs proper professional help, as medication and CBT type counselling can help this sort of problem greatly, and marriage counselling can complete what needs to be done. His willingnesss to seek help will make it much more clear how genuine he is in this apparent break-through. Break-through or break-down, will now be his choice

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Batman | 2007/05/31

I echo Shae's comments above, however, I must add the following rider to her view : carefully and clincally (as far as any mother is able) consider to what extent your adult and independant children may themselves to some extent be unfairly manipulating their relationship with you (financially, emotionally etc) and if you recognise any manipulation, you have to deal with it equally as sincerely as you naturally expect your husband to deal with his issues with the kids - your marraige is after all a 2-way street?

Reply to Batman
Posted by: confused | 2007/05/30

Thanks so much for your replies and for taking the time to let me know your opinions. I also feel that this sudden about-face is nothing more than manipulation. No, he hasn't even tried to apologise to the kids for what he's done. He apologised to my eldest daughter for the things he said on the night everything came to a head, but he has yet to apologise to my youngest daughter or to my son, particularly my son. He has asked me to tell him what he should do and he will do it immediately, but I don't feel that it's my place to do so. If he truly realised the extent of the damage he's caused and was truly of a mind to set things right, surely he would know what to do? Even if his efforts were bumbling in the beginning, surely he should realise where he needs to make amends? It seems that now we are talking like civilised human beings again, all is well and as long as I'm pliable and amenable, he needs to take no further action except work on me to the point where I capitulate, stop my nonsense and get back to normal. I can't do this. The sudden flood of affection is stifling me and in the face of my complete lack of emotion where he is concerned, is confusing the hell out of me. My brain is about as ordered as a bowl of spaghetti.

Reply to confused
Posted by: John | 2007/05/30

Confused: the difference between 'mend' and 'end' is one letter, which sometimes arrives containing a divorce terms.

Your husband's sudden 360 is troubling. After a lifetime of emotional abuse and bullying, he has suddenly had his Road To Damascus moment? Coinciding with you departing the marital bed should make you a circumspect in approaching this matter. Tell him how feel, that the fires that once burned are now ashes. The warm glow of friendship instead of the hot fires of passion does not auger will for the future but it does not mean that you cannot build upon it. If he is genuine - and time will tell - then perhaps couples/marriage counselling is the way to go.

Reply to John
Posted by: Shae | 2007/05/30

I think that his confession of a new founf pity would be allot more convincing if he picked up the phone and started to ask forgiveness from your kids.....and then attempted to mend your relationship with them as well (like maybe inviting them for regular dinners and get togethers).

If you ask me, its all a big manipulation to get you back under his radar ao that the cycle could just repeat itself over and over again.

Reply to Shae

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