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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My wife grew up in a home void of communication, overt

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My wife grew up in a home void of communication, overt displays of emotion to each other, love except for anger.Her father diagnosed with schizophrenia & as a gambling addict.Mother & Father were both highly manipulative.Her brother seen by a child psychologist during his early pre-teen years for unknown reasons. She suffered from sever weight issues, social awkwardness (had a hard time making friends) during her childhood to adult years. Was molested by non family member home during early childhood. Her mother dismissed the incident when told. As a 14 yr old she was raped by her mid 20's boyfriend &never told anyone about it. She has always found it hard to communicate & form longstanding relationships as an adult. Her 3 stated best romantic relationships were with :
1. An individual male that she saw periodically. She described him as an very active individual, avid party goer whom always had lots of women around. Something she did not like. She said the relationship worked because they weren't always together. They lived in separate homes and, as she stated, often had other women (supposedly friends) stay overnight at his home. He would tell her that he was just helping them out as a friend. Eventually she grew tired of the situation and broke up with him. After which they would meet up for Time to time for sex.
2. An very active individual male who she met at work whom she saw periodically. She said the relationship worked because they were not always together. However, one day she was approached by his wife! Yes he just so happened to be married!
Unfortunately, he was unwilling to leave his wife for her. To this day, 6 to 7 years later, that relationship still bothers her.(In both of these relationships communication was not a priority and both individuals were very aggressive and controlling during sex. However, she said that even in these relationship they often times want sex more than she.)
3. An individual male who was very good at communication and was very sensitive. She initially valued these traits. She also saw him periodically. She said that the reason this relationship did not work was because he took thinks to personally and was not aggressive in bed. He was not fiscal and professionally responsible. Additionally, she inferred that he wanted more of her time than she was willing to give.
In our relationship we suffer from her lacking the ability to communicate, display emotion (stoic all the time), and she has a very low appetite for sex. She is socially awkward. Additionally, she is a compulsive liar. Not pathological. She will lie about little issues and larger ones. My issue with her initially was just with her integrity which led me to further explore her past. Which was very hard to do by the way because she is a very closed person. I believe the reason we have these problems is because she has not reconciled with her past. I also believe she has problems forming longstanding bonds with people. But she believes she doesn't have any issues. How do I get her to reconcile with her past? How do I get deal with her issues?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your wife has been through a lot of trauma. While everyone responds differently to abuse and trauma, it is universally common for people to have to adapt by altering how they relate to others. As a result, people who are abused often struggle in relationships. They do not understand what is healthy behavior and what is dysfunctional behavior which is what they learned as a child in response to the crazy environment they were forced to cope with.

You mentioned your wife was emotionally and sexually abused. She was also manipulated by her parents and had to deal with a mentally ill father. That is a lot. In order to protect herself, she may have had to shut down socially and sexually. And because she has not dealt with her issues, she continues to stay shut down in order to cope with her feelings. She also may have been so traumatized that she developed PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I agree, your wife needs to deal with her feelings about her past before she can move on. She may need to not only express her feelings about what she went through, but she also need to understand what healthy behavior and responses are, something she never got to learn as a child.

Therapy is the best way to address your wife's issues. But whether or not she is ready to deal with how she feels is another thing. Anyone who has gone through a trauma needs to feel ready to cope with the overwhelming pain and emotions that come with exploring what happened to them as a child. There is a reason they react as they do, they are trying to hold onto those feelings so they don't feel overwhelmed. Once they begin to explore what they went through, it can be very painful. So it may take some time until she is ready.

Talk with your wife about your concerns and let her know that you care about her. Consider introducing the idea of therapy then give her time to think about it. Offer to go with her for support the first few times. And offer to help her in any way she needs as she deals with what she feels.

You can also talk to her about self help. There are many resources to help someone who wants to explore childhood abuse and find ways to help themselves. Here are some resources to help:

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused by Steven Farmer

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dan B. Allender

The Courage to Heal Workbook: A Guide for Women and Men Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by ***** *****

One of the best ways to help your wife is to ask her how she wants to address what she feels. And as long as she is moving forward, it is a good sign. Be supportive, offer to be with her whenever she needs you and let her talk about how she feels. It can take some time, but each step is closer to healing.

I hope this has helped you,
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