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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I have been married for 6 years. Textbook dysfunction....he

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I have been married for 6 years. Textbook dysfunction....he is a sex addict and I am the codependent one. We have usually been very honest with each other and are both in recover 12 step programs. I am the pursuer in the relationship - and I know it pushes him away. Trying to battle my abandonment issues. One of the things he has alwys done is to give me the silent treatment - so painful. A week ago he announced that he hated me and wanted a divorce but he wouldnt leave the house. We have a 3 year old and him living in the basement and ignoring me has been very hard on her.
I have not done my typical thing and begged him to be reasonable and tried to make peace in any way I can. I am staying away and busy. I need to have some dignity. I do love him and want our family to stay together. But I am tired of fearfully begging him to stay with me.
I am struggling with separating what is my fear of being alone - my pride and I do not know how to handle this situation at all. Do I try to talk to him? Do I keep my distance and let him make the first move?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like since you are working on your issues and have altered your behavior to stop asking for his attention and pursuing him, he may be "stepping up" his reaction to your recovery by removing himself from the main part of the home. In a way, he may be trying to trigger you into the past behavior that he has always counted on, you begging him to come back.

When someone gets into a cycle of behavior that feeds their needs, it can be very difficult to break, as you have experienced in your marriage. You are seeing your part in the situation and are addressing it. But his needs may be more deep seated than yours and therefore harder to break. He also may not have the insight that you do, making his reaction automatic so he can get the attention he wants and craves.

In coping with this situation, it is important that you stay on track with your recovery, no matter his reaction. You are doing the right thing by not asking him to come back. It is painful and hard to do. But I think he is also in pain too. He is trying to get you to react to his behavior because it is the only way he knows how to address his needs. And until one of you breaks this cycle, like you are doing, it will keep going. Also, it is important to note that he did not leave your home. Although he is not with your and your child, he is still there. If he had meant to leave, he would have. So that shows that this is more about his pain and needs than him actually wanting to leave. It may be a small comfort with what you are going through, but it can give you some hope that he will recover from this and stay in the marriage.

I hope this has helped you,
TherapistMaryAnn and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Kate thanks for your reply. Do you think it is best to just stay away - I know he is in pain and I know is history. Do you think there is a way I can show him I care and love him? I am worried that it will prevent him from hitting his bottom if I do it wrong - and this is new territory for me. I care deeply for him, but don't want to manipulate to meet my own needs. And when (IF) he comes to me - how do I handle that?

You're welcome!

It is hard to find a good balance when he is going to want to cross boundaries all the time and expect the same behavior from you. You may want to show concern and care in a very neutral way. By that I mean by saying you care but limit how you show it. Keep your interaction only to healthy behaviors. For example, you decide to tell him that you care about him. If he ignores you, say something like I'm sorry you cannot acknowledge my feelings right now. Maybe later. And let it go. Invite him to dinner, activities and other things you do as a family. But if he doesn't want to go or refuses to acknowledge you, let it go. Any behaviors outside of normal behaviors ignore. You don't want to reward his attempts to get your attention other than in healthy ways. So if he ignores everyone, then let him be. Acknowledging his dysfunctional behaviors is what he wants you to do. And if he does act normally, then let him know you appreciate it. He has to make the decision to change and will not do it if you are there to motivate him.

You cannot be responsible for anything that happens to him. So if he hits bottom, that is not on you. You are there to support him but not to pursue him or make sure he is ok. That is his responsibility. It is hard to separate what is his and what is yours, but with some practice you will be able to do it.