Short Interruption Of Intimacy: The Bumps In The Road

I'm still here, still working at my marriage.

In my last story, I talked about our visit with Husband's family of origin. Well, three days after we visited his ailing mother, she passed away. So we flew back for the family get-together and memorial service.

Needless to say, the whole time was intense and emotional for all of us.

When we returned home, Husband told me that he wanted to be sexually intimate with me, because he missed me. (We hadn't been intimate for nearly two weeks, the time it took to deal with all the travel and family stuff.) And.... I got scared and angry...

First of all, it is really difficult, after years of repetitive cycles of being pushed away, to feel secure in the belief that Husband and I can permanently enjoy this new dynamic between us. So when a couple weeks' disruption occurred, I found myself reliving those feelings of strengthening my boundaries and preparing to be emotionally "on my own" again.

Secondly, the interactions between me and Husband, while verbally supportive, were not fully comforting in that stressful time. He was feeling turmoil and confusion over his family relationships, and he did what comes most naturally to him: he kept more to himself and did not share much physical touch with me. And while I certainly was understanding about his need to deal with difficult feelings in his own way... I also found it hard to be specifically deprived of physical touch that is so normal for us (snuggling, back rubbing, hand holding, etc.)

So yeah, by the time he said he wanted to be intimate, I was feeling threatened and wanting to push him away. I wanted to keep a distance (especially physical) between us, because I was having doubts about whether our newly-reestablished intimacy will last into the future. I thought: if he pulls away from me in stressful times, then is our physical closeness really a comfort to him? Or is it just another source of stress that he will eventually discard?

A bunch of difficult talks and clarifications ensued. We tried to figure out communication that would solve some of the issues we'd faced on the trip. We came to better understanding.

And once again, Husband surprised me by reaffirming his determination to reach me with love. We had sex. He consciously started caressing me during conversation, just to make me feel loved. He is firm in his assurances that our marital progress continues to be his priority.

Still going forward. He sees the therapist again tonight. Still working, still building.
LovelyAlone LovelyAlone
36-40, F
6 Responses Jul 30, 2012

Your story resonated with me. My Husband an I are also working on things....I hope we are both successful! Good luck!

You are still in your marriage because you still care and may still have hopes. As long as both party willing to work on the relationship, intimacy will eventually return. It will feel weird at the beginning, it will return... Funny how death can make a person re-evaluate their life...Your husband may realize once you are gone, it's gone.. He may had a epiphany that you are important..

ptat, if you look back over my last few stories, you will see that Husband and I had already re-started the intimacy in our marriage. This story was about a 2-week hiatus while we dealt with his mother's death.

It *was* weird at the beginning. And it hasn't been long enough, yet, for me to feel 100% secure in the change. But we're working on it.

I know once the intimacy dissipated, it's hard to regain.. There are always reservations..Is it real? is this temporary? Will I be hurt again? All those insecure feelings will, hopefully, disappeared over time. I belief in marriage is a life long journey. Unfortunately, my journey will be ending soon. I wish you well.. If both party wanted it, it must be tried!! Sacrifices and compromise must take place in order to rebuild trust... Otherwise, it will never heal.. Again, wish you a happy ending..

Quite a pile of earth in a pile there where you have been digging.<br />
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Keep at it.<br />
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You seem to be unearthing some really useful stuff.<br />
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Tread your own path.

hope it works out for you... stay available.. open your heart (not to be reached out to but because that's the person you want to be)... bon chance

Thanks, DangerCat.

Lovely, your husband appears to be determined to do whatever he can to resolve the issues that separated you. He deserves full credit for that.<br />
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Your feelings are also very normal. You cannot expect to "re-set" your marriage after everything that has happened (and NOT happened!) without a considerable amount of discomfort at the changes.<br />
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Continue sharing your thoughts and feelings with him as it can only help to re-build your connection IMO. Be sure torecognise tat his efforts are worthy and to forgive yourself for your own discomforts.<br />
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I truly hope the two of you will prove to be one of those rare stories here, where the marriage IS saved!

Thank you, enna30. I am staying as honest as I can, and I know he is too.

I hope you won't mind me suggesting this but to risk stating the obvious, if you are to succeed where you might otherwise fail you BOTH have a lot of healing to do and that has to be out in the open between you.<br />
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Frankly, "his own way of dealing with things" is substantially what got you where you are now in the first place. On the other hand, there needs to be a balance in sharing your emotional problems and holding back on them and in the timing of dealing with them in either way, or even eventually in both ways. I would hazard a guess that if there had not been all this baggage between you before the death of his mother that you wouldn't have been as upset about his withdrawal (again) as you actually are.<br />
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On reflection, did you withdraw from his withdrawal over all this? Were you tempted to pick him up on it but just found it too difficult at the time because of the context? With the event behind you do you wish you had handled it any different? Do you think there is any way you could have handled it any different? Have you discussed it with him to see whether you could have safely handled it any different between you? Unfortunately, like many men, he sounds as if he has been conditioned not to display his emotions at times of grief, stress and so on and one way of doing that is to withdraw yourself from exposure to the antagonisms that may cause it.<br />
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I think this issue can be so bad at times that you even read posts from certain men here on this forum rather cruelly berating other men who they subjectively and wrongly see as being emotionally weak. Not clever in my estimation. And when they do, almost inevitably their victims withdraw, never to be heard from again. Tell me you are surprised.<br />
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It's going to sounds like the worst gawd-awful cliché but you both need to reach a point where you can both empathise at the critical moments in both your lives with how the other person is feeling whether in your own opinion that is not the way you would handle things yourself. It is that possibility that you could envisage doing things differently that gives you clarity of thought and understanding of what is happening to you. And I will stress that it takes both of you to do this for there to be a shared success.<br />
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You are struggling, fighting against this, for reasons that may be very understandable, but you are only engaging in a process of putative self-defeat, making the challenge even more difficult for you and inevitably for him. That resistance could just be the difference between success or failure. You both need to find the skill and the strength of will to engage, not disengage, to negotiate, not to act arbitrarily at times of high mental and emotional stress simply because those times typically represent potential make-or-break points in your life together.<br />
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Simple innit? :-)

"On reflection, did you withdraw from his withdrawal over all this? Were you tempted to pick him up on it but just found it too difficult at the time because of the context? With the event behind you do you wish you had handled it any different?"

----- Yes, I did try to silently give him space, because I thought he needed it. I had a feeling of trust that he would be on his own for a couple of days, but then "come back" to be closer with me again. But that didn't happen, even though I did tell him I felt lonely and needed some evening alone-time with him, while we were there. After discussing it (when we were back home), we concluded that it will help if I am more specific in my requests. Instead of "I'm lonely because we haven't connected in a while" and "I hope we spend some time alone soon" ... I can be more specific: "I need to be held and touched, because that hasn't been happening this week" and "I want to spend time alone tonight, touching and talking, starting at 10:00 at the latest, so you're not half-asleep." I hate being so specific, because it makes me feel like I'm controlling him. But he has a habit of taking any vague requests as optional... and using their vagueness as an excuse to avoid doing what I need.

You know what, if I had sufficient temerity to continue making suggestions I would probably have suggested what you say you have agreed between you. So, if three people, as in a 'crowd', can agree in something maybe there is some hope afterall. ___:-)___ You may feel that you are controlling him, but I see a woman who is brave enough to communicate in a candid and clear manner. I see in him the possibility of someone who needs clear direction and is less perturbed, uncertain, as a result. Some people believe, stereotypically that all women are good at intuition and that all men are crap at it. Me, I SUSPECT I may be crap at it when I may not, at least, be that bad at it. Sometimes you just need the opportunity to practice enough in a situation where the outcome is at least a bit predictable. That way you begin to identify patterns of behaviour that are repeated that you can be confident in your prediction of what they mean. It can all seems a bit magical at times but that is maybe only because you get too many mixed signals which undermines your confidence in your own prediction. If you find yourself in such a situation as either a giver or receiver then the only option is clear, unambiguous, plain-spoken utterances. It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it. Trite, but substantially true.