How to Make Spouses Understand?

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How to Make Spouses Understand?
« on: June 01, 2015, 03:28:24 AM »
I've been having a hard few weeks dealing with emotional fallout from 32 years with my undiagnosed NPD father and potentially BPD mother, both of whom were emotionally abusive (my father was at times mildly physically abusive as well: slapping, grabbing, pinning me down, etc.).  Both ignored a fairly serious case of OCD that manifested itself when I was about six.  As a result of this, it's very hard for me to deal with authority figures--including bosses, etc.

My wife was previously married to a crack addict who was both emotionally and sexually abusive, and frequently smashed things in rages.  I was trying to convey the difficulties I've been going through to my wife, but her response was kind of hurtful: "I went through worse and I got over it much quicker."

Am I just a coward, making a big deal out of nothing?  Much of my adult life has been an exhausting, demoralized slog through depression and anxiety.  I wasn't raped or brutally beaten, so do I have any right to feel this badly or even talk about this?  Should I just shut up and make room for those who have really suffered?

I'm not sure how to make her understand how much this hurts--and how much her comments hurt.  I never made a comparison--I was just trying to explain why I've been so distant.

Am I just weak?



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Re: How to Make Spouses Understand?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2015, 09:11:11 AM »
Hi ZevMordekaisson

I am sorry about everything you have been going through, and also about your wifes lack of empathy towards your struggles.
You are not at all a coward and you are not making a big deal out of nothing. You definatley are not weak.
It takes a great deal of strength to survive every day what you have been through,- then, and now!!
It does not matter in the slightest that you wasnt raped or beaten.
You were emotionally abused!!!
(it doesnt really matter, but emotional abused is apparently more cutting than physical abuse, as it really damages your psyche, and undermines what you previously thought about yourself. Some of us have never had a chance to feel good about ourselves, as it happened in very early childhood. The long lasting effects, are ...long and severe)
You were also physically abused, and its just terrible that your parents ignored your OCD.

I was also emotionally abused and neglected, and i also developed OCD when i was very young and is still present but a bit calmer, - it went un noticed at home and was not tolerated. There was one trip to the doctors, but i couldn't open up to the doctor, and my mum was humiliated as she was worried that he didnt believe her about what was happening with me, but i thought i was in trouble, as i was always in trouble for my OCD.
Im sorry that you were so anxious as a child- known should have to feel like that and turn to these such behaviours to cope, but I understand that you were trying to cope the best your possibly could and that thats what you had to do to survive.

I am not surprised that you are suffering with depression and anxiety.
You should not minimise your pain.  I know its hard to do, but your pain is very valid.

I am sorry that it has come to a fall out with your parents. Thats go to be very tough.

Also i have no idea what your wife's childhood was like, but if it was ok...then the abuse she suffered will have just been from her husband.
Single incidents lead to PTSD, and prolonged abuse leads to CPtSD, so not sure which one she has if she has PtSD symptoms.
Maybe she might not understand because maybe she did get over it.
Or maybe she purely isn't over it and is in denial, therefore hearing about your struggles, she cant hack because it reminds her that she's not over it.

I am sorry that she is drawing comparisons as this is not helpful and there is no need for it. Maybe she feels her struggle at the time was never validated- which is not your fault of course- therefore she's ..iffy about being caring towards you.

You should stick around if you are new. I think people are really lovely on here and so understanding its untrue.
Have you ever thought of seeing a therapist? If not, thats ok. I understand sometimes at first, reaching out and taking is what is most needed.


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Re: How to Make Spouses Understand?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2015, 09:15:13 AM »
her response was kind of hurtful: "I went through worse and I got over it much quicker."
Ouch!  :sadno:

I don't have a clue about how you could make your spouse understand, but I will respond to these (in bold)
Am I just a coward, making a big deal out of nothing? No  Much of my adult life has been an exhausting, demoralized slog through depression and anxiety.  I wasn't raped or brutally beaten, so do I have any right to feel this badly or even talk about this? Yes Should I just shut up and make room for those who have really suffered? No

Am I just weak? No

This isn't about who was hurt more as you wrote ("I never made a comparison"), and that is what made HER reply so hurtful!

Perhaps that is just what you should say to her if this happens again: "This isn't about who was (or is, if she insists she is 'over it') more hurt. It's over the hurt I have now!"

But I'm a longtime bachelor, so probably I'm not the most "in the know" person around  ;) .

Hugs, I feel your pain,



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Re: How to Make Spouses Understand?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2015, 05:09:00 PM »
Hi, ZevM,

sorry for the hurtful remark your wife made. You know her best: Do you think it was meant to deliberately hurt you or more like accidentally hurtful?

Some ideas that might help your w understand CPTSD a bit better:

- See if you find an article/a book that explains in general terms how it feels to have CPTSD.

- Explain to her that it's not a condition you can just 'snap out of' - if that were the case, you'd have done so already. It is however a condition on which you can work to get better and develop more and better coping strategies. Discuss which steps you're already taking in your recovery process and where you want to go next. I find that this helps a lot in discussing CPTSD with my h - him seeing that I am taking responsibility to work on my own recovery. He can also see an improvement in how I cope with unpleasant situations now in comparison to like a year ago. Baby steps but definitely improving.

- This might sound counterintuitive: Don't discuss everything about your CPTSD with your w. It can feel too much for her. Instead, share bits about it with a variety of people you trust like your t (if you have one), on a support forum, maybe occasionally with a friend or family member who's supportive (I don't know your exact situation),.... Dispersing a little takes the pressure off your w a bit. At least that works well for me.

Hope any of this is helpful.

Good luck to you and your w!



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Re: How to Make Spouses Understand?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2015, 01:19:25 PM »
Hey Z!  Welcome.

Since I read your post, I've been analyzing my relationship with my husband over the last 10 years, as he went from having no idea how messed up I was, to feeling just the way your wife does, to becoming the truly supportive  person he is with regard to this brutal war that I fight inside my head each day.  Thinking back to what worked, what didn't, what touched him with understanding, etc.

Here are my thoughts.  Many are repeats of what has already been said, but this is the most important potential ally you have, and it's your marriage, and maybe it will help to hear it stated in different ways.

1. The important thing for you to understand (not speaking of your wife yet), is it is going to take a lot of time, discipline, and real effort if your wife decides to invest her head and heart into trying to wrap her head around how serious it is.  You are asking her to understand something that people go to 6 or more years of college to understand, and even then many psychologists will never really grasp how it feels and how debilitating it is to be in our situation.  It is completely unrealistic to expect your wife to understand any of it.  You might as well be an alien.

Even though she doesn't know it, you need to be confident (or take it on faith for now) that being raised with PD parents in a dysfunctional family, trains you from a small child to relate with people incorrectly.  You have a long road ahead in "dealing with the emotional fallout," albeit a worthwhile and rewarding road to travel.  Clearly from her words, she has no clue - this is NOT comparable to adult relationships like that of her previous marriage.  You need to accept this, not fight it.  For now.  Her brain is wired to think that you, like everyone else, went through similar developmental stages, learning how to cope with the outside world roughly in similar ways, and have the basics in their toolboxes.  As sufferers, many of our tools are missing, or the tools we have are not the right ones for the situations we use them for.  Your wife went through worse, and got over it quicker, because she has "good enough" tools in her toolbox.

2.  Once you accept #1, your job is to get what you need.  You're the only one who can.  That is (primarily) in therapy.  You must get a good therapist, if you don't have one already.  If you don't, or if the one you have is not well on the way to having a solid, trusting relationship with you, fire him.  Seek out the most qualified, seasoned trauma therapists and meet them.  If it's not "clicking" move on quickly because you need this immediately.  Long before my husband an ounce of sympathy for me, I accepted that my therapist was the ONLY one who would somewhat understand.  I dumped all my stuff on him.  I didn't have this forum then, but you can dump the issues into a post here and we will understand.  But do not dump them in her lap.  I put my issues in a box all week long and dumped out the box on T's coffee table regularly.  For years.  Take to heart what keepfighting said in his third point.  Get books, and tools.  Anything to cope and heal.  I don't want to derail this topic but you can find lots of suggestions all around this forum, and your T will have more, and if you need help finding where to start just ask :)

3. Once you have that: the best support system you can manage to find (which still might not seem like much at first), here's what I think you should try to feel about her inabilities, and communicate to her:  That you are going through a very rough time, there's no way she can understand it, you care about the marriage, your sanity is on the line, and are doing everything you can to get help from people who can understand it.  You know she is going to be pulling the emotional weight for awhile, and you appreciate that very much.  This much, if you are genuine, she should be capable of understanding.

This sort of falls into the “not what I signed up for” category from her perspective.  Making matters worse, we cptsd’ers have issues and skewed expectations and understanding of unconditional love, acceptance, and how to get our needs met and who should meet them.  And we have some real specific unique needs too.  Try not to over-expect from her at this stage in her understanding.  Try to positively move her toward a point of better understanding.

With therapy, time here, reading books etc., you can and will begin to heal.  For me, over time as I got better, my husband became more and more accepting and understanding.

I remember when I first told my hubby, “I think I have PTSD.”  He laughed at me.  I threw it into conversation here and there, and for months every time I did he looked at me like I was being playing victim or something along those lines.  Eye rolls, etc.  The official diagnosis helped a lot.  I remember feeling like, with all the * I was going through, why did I have to be the one to be understanding, and not him?  Believe me it was VERY hard to feel this way every day and I have tons of sympathy for your situation.  Eventually I got him to read the first 2 chapters of “Understanding the Borderline Mother”.  That helped.  The biggest thing was when I started to make strides in feeling better.  He couldn’t deny the reality that I was coping better, even happy.  Now we make jokes about it!  He calls me “crazy lady” and things like that. But he is now my best ally in this fight.

While you might not have all the tools and you learned your tools with the wrong people, one thing you do have is strength.  You have to, to get through what you did.  You have more emotional strength than your wife (likely).  Even though it's really hard, and truly unfair, you can get through this until she understands.  I did :)  I wish you the very best.  I can ask my hubby anything you'd like too, just let me know.  If that helps.