So Much Bottled Up

Let me start by saying that I've been reading the stories on this board since I first found it a few months ago. Thank-you so much to people who've shared their stories, it has helped me in dealing with my marriage. I see so many similarities among the stories on this board and similarities with my life.

As a I suspect with most men, I don't feel I have anyone I feel close enough to open-up to about my marriage. I'm hoping that opening-up to those on this board who can relate will have some theraputic value. Please forgive me if this becomes long.

We've been married for almost 9 years and have three children. We married after being together only 8 months. I know that seems fast but it seemed so magical - to this day I can remember the first moment our eyes met. About 4 years after we were married I lost my job; no, I was fired because my work "wasn't up to their quality." For a number of reasons I now know that was BS. But at the time it was a real blow to my self-esteeem. In hindsight it put me into a depression. I was a stay-at-home dad for about a year and a half; I love my kids but I hated being home everyday. I used to love to run but at that same time I developed foot and leg injuries that still keep me from running. Again, in hidsight, I was not a pleasent person to be around. My wife was supportive as she could be through this, but I couldn't appreciate it because of my untreated depression.

After the year and a half at home I found the job I have now; I really like it and it is so much better than the firm I was with before. I'm not sure whether my depression ever lifted. I think it did (of course I denied that I was depressed) but my wife disagrees. About two years she got fed up and stopped being supportive. That is when the sexless marriage began (not that it was gangbusters before that, our sex drives are at different levels). She pulled away. We went to counseling and I realized that I wasn't treating her with the respect I should be. I also realized, or was able to verbalize that I had issues with her, that she is critical, passive-aggressive and narcissistic.

Her pulling away plunged me into a deep depression. (I now realize that rejection is one big trigger to my depression). The depression made me crazy; I developed a jealosy that I had never felt, developed insomia, had panic attacks. After about six month it got to the point where I finally admitted something was wrong with me (WTF, things were way wrong) and agreed to try medication. I've been on Lexapro for more than year now - wonder drug. Unfortunately my behavior before the Lexapro pushed her further away.

While I feel a lot better things have been in a downward spiral for almost two years now. Her rejection puts me into a tailspin and I pull away because I'm hurting, my hurt exhibts as anger, I get upset and we argue which for her becomes another reason why she can't be close to me. Which hurts me again and starts anothe cycle.

For the first year and half after she pulled away the sex was once or twice a month and she made it very clear that it wasn't what she wanted and made no effort. Being a I guy I felt that sex would make us closer, as other guys on this board have said men equate sex with closeness. The horrible sex left me feeling worse than no sex. It became part of the downward spiral.  I wish I could have let go of the sex then, maybe she wouldn't be so bitter now.

Throughout this time I have been down but I would regroup and redouble my efforts to make her happy - more cleaning, cooking, house chores. After a few weeks without anything changing I would get frustrated that I was the only one trying to make things better and we would have an argument. More evidence for her that we we're broken. Her response would be that she was trying because she was still there. Needless to say that fed into my issue with rejection. This became a pattern.

Last fall we took the kids to Disney. We had a great week, I thought we were finally climbing out of pit. And then I made the critical mistake, I wanted to have sex at the end of the week. She obliged, meaning she was willing to lay there, it crushed the optimism I was feeling. That was the last time we had sex.

It was about the time I discoverd this board and found that others that agreed that pity sex is worse than no sex. I haven't sought sex since then. Not that I don't want it, its just that the pain isn't worth it anymore. She believes that I have an inner resntment about not having sex. Even I've been surprised how easy it's been to let go. I take care of myself once or twice a week, but we all know that isn't the same as experienceing it with another person. I miss sex a lot; no, I miss the physical expression of love a lot.

She says our marriage is over and has encouraged me to have my sexual needs met elsewhere. This crushes me - that rejection issue again. There are times when I think about looking elsewhere and I find myself checking Craigslist. I just don't want to take that step bceause then I feel like I'll be admitting it is over. I have hope, when I look at her I don't remember the arguments I rememebr the good times and the fun we had. I believe she only sees the arguments and disappointment. Her memory is amazing, she can access every hurt she's ever felt, she brings up things from 5 years ago.

I posted a comment on MaryP5's story about her birthday realating to her experience. But unlike Mary I'm not sure my spouse will come around. I think I'm envious of those of you that still have a loving spouse and are just not having sex. But then I wonder if that might be more frustrating because you're left wondering why there isn't sex. I can at least tell myself its because my wife thinks I'm an SOB. I don't think my hurt is any more or all that different than the many peope who've shared their experiances here. Maybe this should be on the I Suffer With Depression board or the I'm Getting a Divorce board (which I'm not - yet). But after reading so many of the stories and commetns here it just felt more comfortable.

To anyone that has made it this far - thanks for reading. Sorry I went all Melville on you.

LovenLuck LovenLuck
36-40, M
13 Responses Mar 9, 2010

Gotcha! Yeah, we went through those excuses. You left out "You're too fat" - dropping 35 pounds, less than when we were married, didn't help. (Sadly 15 have come back.) At some point we see the excuses for what thery are. For me it created resentment and anger.

Her part.<br />
If it isn't the money. It becomes the kids. If it isn't the money or the kids, it becomes the housework. If it isn't the money, kids, or housework, it becomes 'I'm always tired'.<br />
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It comes in many shapes and sizes. Mine likes to use 'the kids might be awake' at night and 'the kids might wake up' in the morning. It is very convenient - and there is nothing I can do to convince her to lock the door, be quiet, etc. - and even if I could convince her - is it just going to be to get it over with?<br />
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If they are using excuses, it isn't so you can solve the problem of the excuse - they just don't want to.

She is Type A - I believe that she would replace work stress with home stress. I don't feel like her work is a problem. And her Type A personality is who she is, it presents some challenges but also has rewards. <br />
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I'm not sure what you mean about the excuse cycle - on my part of her part?

Well, then, answer this:<br />
If you were to double you salary and she could cut her hours to half (making you income significantly larger and reducing her stress by not having to work as hard), do you think that would solve anything?<br />
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I think I smell an excuse cycle that you won't be able to get out of. It happens in all shapes and sizes. There may always be an excuse, unfortunately.

Why do I want to still be with my wife? That's the million dollar question. The truth is that I love her. Maybe that's pathetic on my part.<br />
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She's more beautiful than when we were married, she's smart, she's a good mother. She's a good person - just not to me right now because she's so angry. I want to believe that in 30 years we can look back and remember going through a tough time but knowing we made it through it. Like I said in my first post, I look at her and remember the good times and what we were. I believe that if she can get past her anger we can be that again. <br />
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Part of it is fear on may part. I don't want to start over. I'm almost 40, this is suppose to be the point in life where things get less hectic. There is an economic issue too, she makes 20-30% more $ than I do. I do well and can support myself, but together (as the team we should be) the combined income has so many more options of us and our kids. We have a nice home, good friends, I don't want to lose that.<br />
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I understand that we both have to want to work on the marriage. I go back and forth on waning to work as hard as I can believeing that she will start to want to too and feeling that no matter how hard I work I can't work for both of us. That's the cycles of hope and frustration that I've been going through.<br />
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I appreciate everyone's comments - thank-you.

you seem ok in working out your problems. be firm in what you wanted in your family, i believe you will pass this stage. pursue your wife again. i am a woman, sex is not the answer to get love. speech or on how you speak will matter. talk to her when like it was the first time you know her and anything that you do, just don't have any expectation in your mind, then you will not get disappointed. just be!<br />
hope this helps

@MR, you said exactly what I was thinking!<br />
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@LL, why in the world would you stay married? You are not helping your kids by living in a situation that will kill the life out of their father. No offense to you, I know you think you are being the "noble" father. But seriously - do you want your children to grow up and be emotionally crippled because they've been forced to watch this awful marriage, which is clearly toxic?? They will never have any clue how to relate in their own lives, because what they live every day is their model.

To salvage your marriage you both have to want to....so if she will go to therapy and work with you, please do, if not, can you go and just work on you? For now?<br />
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They say men say what they mean, and women play games.....so maybe she is trying to hurt you by saying it's over....I mean if she really felt that, wouldn't she have left? Or not......

If my husband told me that our marriage was over, to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere, and that I was an SOB, I would be out the door. I understand that you are concerned about the kids...but wow...her cruelty to you makes my head spin. Besides throwing yourself on the cross for your children, why are you hanging on to this beoytch??

Watchingme - I can't really run. I started on a treadmill about six weeks ago. Going slowly for about five minutes a couple times a week. I worked my way up to a mile in a bout 10 minutes before the pains started coming back. Here in the northern part of the country the outdoor running season is starting. I was hoping to at least be able to do some 5ks. I don't think that's going to happen, at least I'm used to that disappointment. Thanks for your support.

Thanks for the comments. I wish I was as far along in facing my issues as you all give me credit for. It is a hard process - three steps forward, two steps back; maybe two and a half. But I am trying. The rational side of my brain is far ahead of the emoitional side. It's that darn emotional side that trips me up.<br />
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Thanks Enna. The couples counseling stopped because she didn't think it was helping. I felt it helped me to realize it wasn't all my fault. I think she wanted to stop because the counselor focused on her actions as well as mine, such as holding grudges. Up to then, and I think still now, she says she takes responsiblity for her part in getting us to this point because she didn't call me on my behavior sooner (when I was first suffering depression). That seems like a cop out to me because I think that's a passive-aggressive way of turning it back on me. And I am well aware that I hold the lion's share of responsibility. <br />
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I appreciate the options you present. I feel she has "left the building" I am hoping that there is a way to get her back into the building. I'm not willing to get a divorce because we have kids. Calling it quits so that she and I can feel better seems so selfish. I understand the arguments about it being better for the kids than a bad marriage. But I think there is a security that will be forever lost by destroying the family. For the kids (5,8,and 11, the oldest is my step-daughter but I don't think of her that way) a life where mom and dad aren't both there never enters their mind.<br />
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Our kids are happy, healthy and do well in school. That's under the current bad situation. I don't feel we do anything but put that at risk with a divorce. On the selfish side, I can't stand the thought of being a part-time dad. I know we would have a relationship and would see each other. But is the little things at meal-time or bed-time or just in the down time that I don't want to miss.<br />
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My attitude is that this is the situation we are in and we need to suck it up or make it work - quitting isn't an option. And so I feel like I'm committed to the your first option while working to make it better with my fingers crossed.

Wow, you have faced your demons head on and are to be congratulated for that. Its a huge step to any positive outcome. I understand the part about being more able to express anger than hurt. It is not easily overcome, but I do bel ieve if anyone can, it would be you from your progress. You can't "fix" your wife. She has to want to let go of the past and move on. If you are resigned to the fact that she has no desire to do so, then you know what your option is. If you two can agree that there is something worth saving, then go full speed ahead and good luck to you. Continue to be the best Daddy you can be and best of life to you.

Congratulations to you for addressing your issues. You are very honest about the part you have played in your marriage problems, and you have sought / are seeking to make things better.<br />
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It seems you got some value from counselling and I wonder if continuing with couple counselling might be helpful for you both? Of course that necessitates you BOTH being willing to give it a go, and it sounds from your story as if your wife may have "left the building". . . . <br />
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That ability to access every hurt she has ever received is a sign of narcissism - which you mentioned in your post. It seems that people with these tendencies can NEVER "process" the slights which we all receive throughout all our lives . . . This makes dealing with them very difficult indeed.<br />
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I can only see a few options for you sadly:<br />
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1 you limp along as you are - and things will slowly deteriorate further. NOT good for either of you OR your children.<br />
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2 You seek a lover on the side - but it seems you are aware this is not a great option for you for a number of reasons<br />
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3 You both commit whole heartedly to marriage counselling and give your marriage chances a "red hot go"<br />
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4 You accept that it is "over" and get a divorce<br />
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None of these is the "magic bullet" you are seeking - as all of us know only too well. May you find a way forward that gives you a chance at a better future.