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My husband and I have been married just over five years now, and yesterday he asked if I would be willing to go to marriage counseling with him. Of course I said yes, but until recently I was under the impression that our relationship was good. Now I don't know what to think.

From my perspective, things started getting rough in March. We had just moved back to town nearer my parents. I love the town, but I think moving back was a blow to my PTSD. I was assaulted by my brother when I was 13, and I can barely stand to be within 10 miles of the house it happened in. The first time we had sex in the new house I had a bad flashback, but I ignored it. It was maybe a month before I told him about it. Since then I haven't wanted physical contact hardly at all. It's gotten better, but I was never a very physically affectionate person.

From his perspective, shortly after we started dating I became less and less affectionate, to the point where he feels the relationship is almost platonic. He is physically affectionate, and he wants more physical affection. He doesn't want to leave me, but he "doesn't want to feel lonely" either.

My memory is admittedly horrible, but I think he started mentioning two years ago that he wishes we had sex more. At first it was just once every couple of months, but since March it's been more like every couple of weeks. I asked him to stop pressuring me, and he switched to saying he wants other kinds of physical affection too (like hugs, or cuddling, he said). I've told him that I'm doing as much as I can to treat my depression and to work on specifically this problem; that I'll do my best to be affectionate more often; that it isn't something I'm used to thinking about and it would be helpful if he were to initiate more often.

 

I know I'm prone to catastrophizing, but I'm afraid my marriage is coming to an end. Is there more I should be doing? Should I be trying harder to overcome my boundaries? Can a marriage even work if our needs are so fundamentally different? Will a marriage counselor help, or just make it worse?

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Yes, I think a marriage counselor could help a lot. Hopefully, you have a good therapist to help you with your issues. EMDR therapy is very helpful for people with PTSD. Otherwise, it sounds like you are doing all you can in keeping the communication open and honest. I wish you well.

BW

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Hi Fireheart -- I, too, am a survivor of sexual abuse when I was 15 and it went on for nearly a year.  What I can tell you of my own experience is that it affected virtually all my relationships from that time forward.  It's responsible for a considerable part of my lifelong depression.

It wasn't until decades later I finally got a handle on how a trauma like that can affect a kid.  Simply, at that age, particularly in puberty, the brain is rewiring itself for adulthood.  So, during that period I learned my boundaries were irrelevant to an adult in a position of authority, my high school guidance counselor, who I was supposed to trust.  A part of my brain "learned" that my only value was as a sex object.  I learned not to trust and that cynicism was often a good defense.

We're both survivors carrying a burden and doing our best under outrageous circumstances to carry on normal lives.  If I may, an observation from your post.  You mention you've asked your husband to stop pressuring you, on one hand, and then mention you wish he'd initiate more often.  I'm not a professional and not qualified to even venture what that indicates, except that it sounds like your sending mixed messages that are bound to leave him confused.

I concur, as I often do, with @BeyondWeary that, yes, counseling sounds like it would be a way forward.  Let us know if you decide to take that route.

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I wish I had some good advice for you, Fireheart1 but I am at loss for wisdom.   As far as relationship issues go, I am the last person on earth to make suggestions.    I sure hope you find something that helps you ! ! !  You deserve a good life ! ! !  - epictetus

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Thanks for the support, you guys. I hope you're right about marriage counseling... I have a therapist for myself to at least I'm used to talking about this kind of thing with a professional.

@MarkintheDark

Thank you for sharing. I definitely learned that my feelings don't matter, but it does seem like I'm always finding more ways my life got screwed up. I'm sorry you're dealing with that kind of thing too.

3 hours ago, MarkintheDark said:

You mention you've asked your husband to stop pressuring you, on one hand, and then mention you wish he'd initiate more often.

I meant stop pressuring me to have sex, and he initiate hugs more often. I think he understood, but I can't really be sure... Maybe marriage counseling will help me figure out his perspective.

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Marriage counselling will help I think,  the problem in my relationship is communication.  My wife is very distant with me, and its all or nothing and I don't want to pressure her by nagging, and I know she wishes I took the lead.  But in my case, I was pushed away for so many years, "don't touch me" "I am too tired" etc etc, that in the end you feel like you don't want to cross a line and get rejected.

With me, I miss the flirting, I miss the messing around which in turns you miss the closeness.  

My words maybe way off your situation, but my point is, getting support could really help, as the communication will be extracted by a professional, rather than you sitting down and both sides not saying what they really want without sounding "mean"

 

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