I Have Gone Numb

I think I am losing my mind. I have been trying for 14 years to bring some type of intimacy to my marriage. Friendship, companionship, sex...one of the above, or all the above. I have been met with rejection, disrespect, being ignored. and made to feel like a puppy.

Something happened last weekend that has never happened to me before. I went numb.  I thought perhaps I was just tired, but it hasn't gone away. I have gone emotionally numb.  I can't seem to feel anything, just this deep sense of sadness and resignation. I don't know what it relates to, but it is there and it stays with me. I can't seem to think anymore. The sight of my wife just makes me sad. I fear now that she may try to touch me and I would not know how to, or care to, or be able to, respond. I do not know how to deal with this numbness. I am not even sure I know what it is. It is just there.

northguy northguy
46-50, M
35 Responses Apr 10, 2010

Add a response...

NorthGuy, I think I know how you feel. I remember one day the pieces suddenly came together for me ... the lack of intimacy ... the "puppy dog" rules ... the feeling like everything must have wife approval. It was like I suddenly shifted from not being able to even imagine life without her to wondering why we were even still trying.

Ya know what? that what happened in the relationship I developed after I left my wife. I found out that if given the choice between the two, I was better off with the wife.

I know how you feel. Well said you are not alone. Let us know if you are able to turn it around

dear Northguy -this is classic depression - please get some help from your GP

"I fear now that she may try to touch me and I would not know how to, or care to, or be able to, respond." These are the words that have eluded me in explaining my experience. Numb is a great way to describe how bland co-existance resonates. You are not alone. Thank you for sharing your story...it is as if you wrote my story too.

Wow, thank you North Guy....you have put in words how I've been feeling. Or rather not feeling. I've been married 9 years and have given up begging, pleading, scolding, threatening, discussing. I just don't have anything left.<br />
<br />
The best thing I've read is that you have to learn to focus on you. That regardless of what happens - it's up to you to make your life and the way you live it - okay. Perhaps, just focusing on making ourselves happy things will turn out the way they were meant to.<br />
<br />
Best of luck!

There is no shame in "chasing" your wife. Some of the most romantic and loving quotes by men are about "the chase" (Lincoln, Tennyson, etc.) I wish I could remember who notably said "Thanks for the chase" after a lifelong marriage to his wife and at the twilight of his life. Maybe it will come to me. <br />
<br />
Anyway, I'm a bit confused by your posts. On one hand, you don't want your wife to be intimate with you because you don't want her....but then complain that SHE isn't loving enough. You say you are numb/apathetic towards her, but have expectations of her being considerate, adoring and attentive? You said that you have basically wasted your life giving her a home a family,...the things SHE wanted. Didn't you want these things too? Didn't she contribute too? <br />
<br />
Clearly, you don't feel appreciated or respected and that needs to be addressed and I can certainly identify with those feelings....but I'm missing the real deal breakers that have made you feel numb. I don't understand why you didn't just put the computer in the buggy when she interrrupted you about the shoes. Interruptions are rude, but are they worthy of telling your children that their "Mom is a jerk"? Did you drool over her shoe bargain (for the kids) that she was excited about? No, you felt hurt that she didn't drool over what you had found. <br />
<br />
And sorry, but the fact that she slept with you when she was really to pooped to play doesn't really meet a true rejection standard. As hard as it may be not to feel insulted...it's not a deliberate "NO". It's more of a "I want to be close to you, in spite of the fact that I'm exhausted". <br />
<br />
I hope my post doesn't offend you in any way....and I truly hope that things get better for you and your wife. I suppose I'm agreeing with a previous poster who wrote that he/she could see both sides. Good luck!

Oh, WoW! Thanks for sharing this. Trust that I am going to explore it.

Change some minor details and I know exactly where you are coming from. After years of protests, my wife finally realized I was about to leave her and went to counseling. I went apathetic after the first session and numb after a private session just last week. I'm sure our marriage counselor has heard all sorts of crazy things, but I think I gave her a first--she was so surprised that she repeated my words and asked me to confirm that was what I said. At the end, she said simply, "You feel betrayed." I said, "Yes."<br />
<br />
I remember reading some time ago that emotionally abused people often display signs of PTSD. I did some searching and got a hit on "Betrayal Trauma." It describes me.<br />
<br />
http://mensnewsdaily.com/2009/11/21/betrayal-trauma-do-you-have-relationship-ptsd-from-your-wife-or-girlfriend/<br />
<br />
Another by the same author:<br />
<br />
http://mensnewsdaily.com/2009/11/30/betrayal-trauma-how-men-are-affected-by-abusive-women/<br />
<br />
BTW, the lack of sexual incompatibility was the most glaring symptom, but like you the lack of respect, her being less than honest and the seeming complete lack of empathy are worse. Unfortunately, after talking to people, I've learned that unless you've gone through this or something really close, you simply can't understand it.<br />
<br />
To my shame, I used to have contempt of women who wouldn't leave a physically abusive marriage. Yet, here I am KNOWING I need to get out for my own sanity, but I don't.

You are tired : (

Wow, I can see both sides. As for the wife falling sleep thing, I have been tempted once or twice. If the other person is not making me feel good consistently, then I come to expect a boiring roll in the sack. I'll do it to be polite, but what more can you expect, espeically if I am doing even though I am sleepy? I say try some new stuff and try to see what makes her excited. Ladies need TONS of good foreplay to make it worth their while. It took me and my husband years to figure that out. And I will admit to being a bit resentful sometimes and just not wanting sex anymore because "why bother?" If he gets off everytime and I never do...and that goes on for many years? No thank you. In case you are curious we got over that but it took a lot of work on both our parts. <br />
<br />
On the other hand, your wife interrupting you when you were talking...sounds really rude. Doies she normally talk a lot? Is she very excitable? Does she do the same thing to others too? She might have issues she needs to work on. but it won't stop unless you are truthful with her. All that stuff you wrote about how she made you feel and the conversation with your son? If you can say that to her without getting upset or angry, just let her know how she makes you feel and how it hurts you, she may finally start to work on it.<br />
<br />
Just try to tell your wife how you feel, without being angry or upset at her, and let her know how much what she has been doing has hurt you. She may have similar things to say to you as well. You sounds sad and sounds like you want to have a better realtionship but feel hopeless because you don't know how.A few places you might want to start reading, which have helped me and my husband:<br />
www.divorcebusting.com<br />
www.marriagebuilders.com<br />
Check out the articles and the online community bulletin boards there for lots of great advice. There are also coaches available if you are interested in that.<br />
<br />
<br />
Good luck!

If one does all the giving and one all the taking then it is an unequal relationship.<br />
<br />
IIf all your energy is spent trying to make her happy and you are still not acheiving this then spend some time developing some interests of your own and she may be less bored with you as it sounds like that is the problem.<br />
<br />
I hope this doesnt sound harsh,it is meant to help you.Good luck.

I'm in the same emotional place you are. It's been almost 10 years and I feel that I'm just part of the furniture - pleasant to have and easy to ignore. So I've disconnected for the sake of my sanity. I wish us both the best of luck in figuring out what to do next with our lives - with or without the spouse.

Is she a woman who insists on lights out for sex? I know that darkness has a powerful influence on whether or not I'm drowsy, and I leave lights on in rooms because I hate dark rooms so much before bedtime.

If there is a pressing question to be asked here northguy, I see it not as being what is wrong with you, more what is wrong with your wife.

The merry-go-round keeps going. The wife and I had begun "talking" again after I went numb. She asked me what was wrong, and I explained to her in glorious living color. The way I did it this time was to put it to her from my perspective: "How would you feel if something was really troubling you and you began to tell me about it. Then while you were right in the middle of explaining to me what was bothering you, and why you feel the way you do, I said, 'hold that thought. I have to get a snack'?<br />
How would that make you feel?" I did this six times, giving specific examples each time, knowing she would remember each one. She did. <br />
Being an old veteran in this endless war by now, I knew it was coming. And it did. "I would feel hurt, frustrated, confused, rejected,... I can see why you feel the way you do. I'm going to work on this and change it, blah, blah, blah"...just like I said it would happen in a previous post. <br />
Her changes last about a week this time. Record for her, usually it lasts about three months. Last evening, we had to go to Wal Mart. She wanted to go grocery shopping and go the pharmacy, and I wanted to shop for a laptop computer that I can take with me to school so I can email the kinds when I'm gone. Being she is so damned obsessed with money, I wanted to show her the computer I was looking at and what it would do for the money spent. She said she had something to do and would be along in a minute. Forty minutes later, she met me in Electronics. I was looking at a laptop and turned around to show it to her. I said, "This is the computer I'm looking at. This one has...." At that point, she stuck a shoe box in my face and smiling happily, she proclaimed, "Look at the shoes I found for (our son)! Aren't they cute? And they're only two dollars!" Then she sat down on the floor and started to unlace the shoes. My 13 year-old son was standing next to me. He looked at me with bulging eyes and shook his head. We walked away and when we were out of earshot, he looked at me and said, "I don't know how you can put with up that. That hurt me to see you have to go through that".<br />
Wow. Even my son sees this crap now. I just looked at him and said, "I've been putting up with this for fourteen years now." He said, "I've been watching it now for three. How do you put up with it?" <br />
What do you say to a teenage son in answer to that? "Yes, son; your daddy has no dignity left." <br />
I had to explain to him that I won't have my kids come from a broken home because my childrens' mom is a jerk". He looked at me and he thought about it for a minute, and he said, "You're more of a man than I'll ever be."<br />
I let it go at that. I didn't tell him about her being a refuser, or how that aspect of the marriage is. He doesn't have to know that. He knows too much now.<br />
So, later on after the kids were in bed, I was answering some question on EP and the wife walks in and says, "Come to bed soon. I want to cuddle you." I know what you're thinking: no, I didn't hit her. I explained to her that what I wanted to show her was important to me, and I wanted to share it with her.<br />
"Well, I don't know anything about computers, you know that". She shot back. she was smiling.<br />
I said, "You don't know anything about marriage, either. You could have at least pretended to care, for my sake. You always know exactly which buttons to push and you have to push them every time. You are a f***ing jerk. Go to bed"<br />
I don't know why I am so devastated by this. I knew that it would go this way again. I told you it would go this way again. I knew it. And yet, I'm still crushed by it. What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I subject myself to this, over and over and over? "Thank you, Sir! May I have another!" What the hell is wrong with me?

Dear northguy, I think you have given yourself the best advice when you say;<br />
<br />
"I know that I have found myself focusing on me for once and I am anticipating several changes."<br />
<br />
We can wish, hope and pray for changes to take place within others, but ultimately the most positive changes for us are usually the ones we make within and for ourselves.<br />
<br />
I feel you would gain much emotionally by trying to shift your focus away from your wife somewhat (and the pain) and redirecting your energies into rediscovering " you." Not easily done I know, however please try to take the first step. I believe you will eventually reap the rewards... <br />
<br />
Sending my warmest wishes... :)

If I thought this marriage could work, I wouldn't go anywhere. But one horse can't do the work of the team. i can't do it by myself anymore and I just don't care to try. If I thought...If I only hoped. But that's long gone. Years ago. I used to think I wanted happiness out of life. Now, I'd be just be happy with peace.

I'm really pleased for you. I'm glad you can see yourself at last in the midst of all this.

I don't know yet. I know that I have found myself focusing on me for once and I am anticipating several changes.

Well that's something.... you're seeing the ability to move on. Which is good - it's a BIG positive, and further forward than the other night?

Oh, no! If she leaves, she leaves for good. I'll be done with it then. I think that was the cause of my numbness the other night. I think I am just in the process of accepting that this is done and I am getting ready to move on.

Immoral?!?! Oh no, that needs quantified! she can't make a statement like that without cause/reason.<br />
<br />
Honestly - I'd tell her to leave & come back when she's ready to try working at your relationship.<br />
<br />
Thinking of you love.<br />

No, I don't argue. In fact, nothing is even mentioned unless I bring it up. I have quit bringing it up. It doesn't do any good. You are right, though; it just ends in arguments. The last time was during Holy Week and she tried turning it around on me and saying that she finds it hard to feel close to me because I'm "immoral". That's when I gave up and left the room. I don't drink, I never committed adultery, I never fornicated. I was done at that moment. So, now here we go again, starting up the merry-go-round. I don't know if I should go through the motions again, or just tell her to leave.

Hi hunny. I was going to ask how you were......... <br />
<br />
But sounds like you're back on that familiar merry-go-round, only without the merry.<br />
<br />
Don't let her take the control back. Let her work towards it, but don't relinquish.<br />
You could of course become the proverbial dog and refuse to let the bone go?<br />
<br />
Do you argue? I know it sounds ridiculous - but a good old shout is not always a bad thing.<br />
<br />
God Bless.<br />

Well, she started it again. She sees that I have given up, so she has started reaching out to me and trying to make amends as best she can. I wish I could count the number of times I've been down this dirt road with her driving. She will wait until I think we are finally getting somewhere and then she'll go right back to the way she likes to be. This will take about three months. Then gradually, she will start ignoring me again, and correcting all the things I do and basically treating me like one of our children. <br />
I just don't feel like doing this anymore, because once she sees she has regained the control...it just keeps going in circles-the same cycle, just like I knew it would. And yet, I made vows before God that I would remain until "Death do us part". I don't hope anymore; I don't fear anymore; I just regard is as one more charge up the hill to be shot to **** trying to capture the flag that isn't there.

How did I achieve numbness? I was sitting on the couch and I just realized that there is nothing more I can do. I have nothing more to offer. I'm done. She simply does not have any respect for me, and she is probably right. I've spent so many years chasing after her, trying to make her happy and basically throwing myself at her feet, that I have surrendered my dignity. If she doesn't respect me, there isn't a damn thing I can do about that. <br />
I just have nothing else to offer, nothing more to give. I'm just numb. It's like being in shock when you hear a family member has died.

1st things first - you have to decide whether you WANT to save/salvage the relationship - and it sadly sounds like you probably don't - or rather can't bring yourself to carry on trying.<br />
If you don't mind me asking - how old are the kids? Are they really wee (yes, I'm Scottish :o)? Either way - how do you think it's going to affect them with you becoming gradually more cut off from everything?<br />
This numbness could spread - it might not, but it could. And then what? What when you drive somewhere to do something & forget where you're going & why?<br />
<br />
Have you posed a few direct questions to her? Are you happy? Do you want me to leave? Do you love me? Have you ever loved me? etc etc....... if so - did this glean any kind of response other than 'bare with me' - cos it sounds to me like you've bared and bared and bared and nothing.<br />
<br />
A relationship is a two way street - not one way traffic in one person's favour.<br />
<br />
My relationship is far from perfect but I smile & nod & carry on regardless - but my situation is really complicated, not that I'm saying yours isn't - but this isn't about me.<br />
<br />
If someone offered you a wave of a magic wand - what would you do with it? Would you still be with her - happy n fulfilled - or would you be somewhere else?<br />
<br />
And as for being too far down the road to turn around & take a different route - I beg to differ.<br />
As long as your heart still beats - there's life there.<br />
<br />
Fear of the unknown's no reason to stay - only love can or indeed should create that anchor.<br />
<br />
Northguy - if you want to leave, hold tight to the happy memories - of which there must be plenty as there are little people in your life. People you have helped mould into the wonderful creatures they are becoming/have become. Your life thus far has served a huge purpose in this fact alone.<br />
<br />

I'm sorry. I wish there was something more I could say.

I really feel for you, have been in a sexless and loveless relationship for 30 years..finally found the courage to end it. I don't think that I ever loved him, didn't know him that well when we married, was pregnant. I was running wild, drinking and having one night stands in my 20's then started feeling desparate to settle down and have a family so this was my chance. I kind of felt like it was a mistake to marry him even before I did...figured that maturity would change things. I tried really hard to make it work, he did not give any companionhip or affection...did not know how to give or receive affection actually. I stopped having sex with him as he repulsed me, must be a least 5 years ago, prob more maybe even 10. I numbed my feelings with food, cigarettes and shopping until my libido woke up with a vengeance.<br />
Asked for divorce, proceedings have been started, I go out dancing almost weekly with friend and sister, have gone to dating sites and met a few men. I absolutely love my new life. My kids are 25 and 29 now but I think that staying together unhappily was not good for them. My daughter really resents me...says that I should have done it long ago instead of being in misery. She blames everyting that is wrong with her on me anyway. She has never had a boyfriend iand is very unsociable. this may be the results of the unhappy home life. We never had fights but the kids knew that our relationship was not good, they are not stupid and can see and feel what is going on.<br />
I hope that you find a solution to your circumstances soon,

On Easter Sunday, she and I were working together on supper. We were side by side in the kitchen for over an hour and in that time, she didn't speak to me once. Afterward, I was loading the dishwasher and she came along and started to rearrange the things, explaining that her way of loading it is more efficient. After having been married to her for 18 years, it was only brought to my attention last week that I don't hang laundry right, either. I wish I could count how many times she has initiated sex, then fallen asleep. One night, while I was inside her, she fell asleep. <br />
When I have tried to talk to her in the past, she has always said she sees now what I am going through and how sorry she is and to be patient with her, that she will change it all. I've been hearing that for 14 years. I guess my patience ran out. Something ran out, because all I can think is that I met her when I still had youth. I gave her that. She said she wanted a home, I gave her that. She said she wanted a family, I gave her that. I've spent so many years worrying about her happiness that I have destroyed my own and I was too slow to realize what I had done.<br />
Now, I just keep thinking I'm too old to start over again, and I think I would be afraid to if I could, and even if by some chance freak of nature she did finally change, I don't think I have anything left to give. I have nothing left to hope or trust with anymore. <br />
And I could leave, but what would that do to the children? I think I hate this. It's funny. I don't hate her, I just hate what she has done to me and that I let her do it. I hate myself for not having stopped this years ago when there weren't so many children involved.

Unfortunately, I feel your pain. I only have 8 years invested, but I often can't help but wonder how far reaching the numbness might become, and how it will begin to effect other areas of my life. I sometimes feel it might be the subconscious mind's way of taking the necessary steps to minimize the damage brought about by the relationship's impending end?<br />
<br />
Who knows...I'm just along for the ride these days too :(

Talk - to her, to us, to someone<br />
Learn to live with the numbness - if you're lucky it'll go<br />
or leave<br />
<br />
But if you carry on like this your mind and heart may end up with scars you can't hide.<br />
<br />

how did you achieve numbness? can you reverse it? can you teach me how to be numb? Now about you. I feel you need to take time out for yourself. was there something in your life that you never had a chance to do or finish? did you have to sacrifice who you were to be with your wife? did you give up dreams for your family? i think you need to learn more about yourself before you can look at your wife and your feelings towards her. i'm sorry but that's the way i see it. sometimes we do not know what we want or what's in front of us when we don't understand ourselves.

I hear you loud and clear. I have 32 years invested. What to do?