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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Wit's End

Wit's End

February 1, 2000

Dear Dr. Irene,

I am at my wit's end.  About 4 years ago I found out that my husband was having an affair with his secretary.   Our relationship up until that point was not good.   He was very unaffectionate, and basically ignored me.  When I would bring it up he would be nasty or moody.  He always wanted to be in control, and if I challenged him he would raise his voice and yell at me.  

Our sex life was poor,  he would withhold sex and when I would try and discuss it he'd get mad and dismiss my concerns as nagging.  Well, I wanted to go to therapy when I found out about the affair and he didn't.  I was hurt because he didn't have sex with me, but could go and fool around.  I separated and moved back to my home state with our then 3yr child.  I was trying to get my life in order.  I got a job, I was a stay at home mom.  Got us our own apartment.  

He went to a therapist.  He was diagnosed with chronic depression.  After several years, he asked me to come back.  He promised that he'd changed.  He said that everything he did was a result of the depression.  He was put on Lithium and Prozac. No. There are no medications that will cure abusive tendencies. Medication will just make it much easier for him to learn the coping skills, cognitive skills, assertive skills, etc. he needs to stop misbehaving.  

Well, I finally did return and he constantly lies to me. Lying is a serious sign.  I have been back for 2 years and we still have not had sex one time.  He does things with the finances and then when I confront him he lies. Does he spend too much? If he lies and spends, he may be manic and may need his medicine adjusted. On the other hand, he may be a compulsive liar. Or both. I don't have enough information. I do some research and find out and then he yells and twists things around to make me look like I've done something wrong.  He won't discuss why he doesn't want to have sex.  I ask him to tell me if he just doesn't love me.  He says he loves me and he wouldn't be here if he didn't. Not having sex does not mean he doesn't love you. But not talking to you about why he has no interest in sex suggests a problem with the level of intimacy in your relationship. 

I am hurting so badly.  I don't know where to turn.  We went to a therapist and he lied to the therapist so I don't know how anyone can help us if he won't tell the truth.  I don't understand why he lies.  Did you tell the therapist he lied? There are a few ways you could go. You might want to get your husband's permission to talk to the doctor who prescribes his medication. He may be able to shed some light on the nature of the problem and the prognosis. Perhaps the doctor is not aware of the money issues and the lying, which may be a clue for him in properly medicating your husband. Whether your husband lets you talk to his doctor or not, I suggest you go into therapy by yourself. Your husband can always join you later if need be. You need help in not personalizing your husband's issues and in deciding which way to go.  

He knows that I always wanted more children and I think it's his way of hurting me. Perhaps, but it is unlikely that he would abstain from sex simply to prevent you from having children!  Since we don't have sex we have no chance of children.  I wouldn't even try for that unless our relationship was better.  He makes snide comments and makes me feel like he doesn't want me because I should lose weight, yet when I try he undermines my attempts. This is abusive. I am not that overweight but I could stand to lose some weight.  

I really don't know what to do.  Please help me.  I feel like I am always hitting a brick wall.  He refuses to discuss anything, he always says "later" but later never comes.  I would appreciate any advice or comment you have on this whole thing. My advise is that either you accept your husband's abusive withholding behaviors or you go elsewhere. You can't make him change, so stop wasting your energy. Use it instead to focus on yourself.

Thanks very much.  Also, I don't tell anyone about the lack of sex because I am so ashamed that he totally rejects me like this, after all he is the one who had the affair and should be trying to make me feel as though he does really love and want me here. I did tell the therapist but no one else. Don't be ashamed! You have no reason for shame! You did nothing is your husband who has the sexual problem, not you! He is not having sex with you because there is something wrong with him, not you!  Shame on him for having an affair and for withholding himself from his wife - in so many ways! 

You need to stop personalizing his actions so much and blaming yourself for them. Yes, you do blame yourself - deep down - you doubt your attractiveness and, I'm sure, much more. Yet have absolutely no reason to doubt yourself. (Nobody does! We are all perfectly imperfect humans.) Go to therapy. Learn to appreciate and love who you are. Then you will know better what to do with him.  

Good luck. Dr. Irene