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Declared my problem... then she called it quits
I have been with my wife for 10 years, married for eight and have a pre-school aged son.
After battling my demons for years, by myself, I finally took the step. I got referred to a psychiatrist. My guess is somewhere in the world of anxiety, depression, PTSD, possibly bipolar (symptoms and family history). I'm an emergency services worker of 15 years.
We have not been intimate for six months and getting distant before that. I had closed myself off from all social situations to the point when my wife and son would be going out somewhere she wouldn't bother asking me if I wanted to go because I'd always say no. I cannot remember the last time I felt genuine joy or pleasure in anything. I sit up late at night, while she goes to bed, killing time to avoid the sleeping panic attacks and nightmares.
A week ago, just days after getting the referral, I had my anxiety triggered. She returned home after a night out with work colleagues at 5am (VERY unusual as she doesn't want to be hungover or anything for our son) and I woke up as she was getting out of the shower and felt terrible that I'd fallen asleep so wasn't awake to at least make sure she got in the door safely. I'm very protective of my wife and, thanks to the job, I hear about bad things happening to vulnerable (drunk) women all the time. I found out she needed the taxi driver to help her with her keys to unlock the door!
That evening I declared to her that I was sorry for being a terrible husband and I had made the step by having the conversation with a GP. What sort of response was I expecting? "That's terrible, I'll support you" is what I thought I was going to get. No, it wasn't. I was floored to hear the words:
"I'm not sure it's going to fix things"
I could feel myself imploding from the inside. Not just the words, but our entire conversation that followed contained no emotion or empathy apart from "I don't mean to kick you while you're down". She revealed it started last year when she found herself having to talk to her GP about how she felt in her marriage and took anti-depressants for a while.
I had to wake up next to her the next morning with that sinking feeling that it wasn't one of the bad dreams I often have.
I'm now a wreck. I've had to go back to the GP to get something to calm the anxiety and help me sleep while I wait to see the psychiatrist. I am seeing him this coming Tuesday with all these developments to add to my problems.
The term 'gutted' doesn't describe how I'm feeling.
I should also point out that she immediately agreed to marriage counselling that I arranged through work the following day. We're in for a three week wait. In the meantime we have had text message exchanges while I'm at work where she sort of has acknowledged what affect it's had on me. She still encourages me to get help that's it's the main priority.
I remain hopeful, but keeping my expectations realistic.
The other evening she was going to her work Christmas function and I noticed she was wearing her wedding ring. That lifted my spirit a little. This evening however we went to a Christmas public event and I noticed she wasn't wearing it. But, that could be me reading into it too much. My brain just won't stop with all the emotions running through it.
I'm scared to death of what is to come. The pain I'm going to have to endure only to end up alone and have lost everything. I've already been through it before with a previous relationship that produced my two teenage sons but that was different - I hated her and was glad to be free from it.
I see you are in a pickle and sensible to brain storm others in this dilemma.
Regardless if what you are going through you must still pay your wife attention and most importantly- ask her what SHE wants from the marriage. Then once you’ve listened without interruption (write it all down) tell her your intent is not only to get well but to work on her needs.
Carers like your wife often don’t have the endurance to work, be a parent and look after a partner with problems- it all gets too much then added into that the loss of a sex life.
There is medication as you’d know for the above problem. In your wife’s position she is possibly considering an affair or at least socially expanding as her life has become less fulfilling.
Focus attention on her. I know it isn’t easy. You’ll do it your way.
I truly sympathise with your pain and confusion. I have been there. Unless a person has experienced that punch gut feeling of shock and sense of disbelief (is this really happening), it is hard to understand the depth of emotions.
Okay, first things first. You admit that your marriage has suffered mainly due to your “demons”. You are taking action with a psychiatrist and marriage counselling. That’s positive. It is important that you understand the burden your wife has carried while you have been unwell. Not everyone can be a Mother Theresa patiently supporting a spouse without an end in sight.
Your wife is still with you at the moment, she hasn’t run off. Be grateful, tell her that. I know it’s difficult but take your focus away from the “little things” like is she wearing her wedding ring. This is what we do when we are under emotional distress. We become catastrophic.
Ultimately, none of us can accurately predict the future. Will your marriage survive? Yes, it can and become even stronger or maybe it won’t. But that is the wrong question. In my view, the better question is what can I do to regain my health and from there be a better husband and with a bit of luck my wife will join me in my recovery phase.
You have already taken some positive early steps. Please ( if you wish) keep us informed of your progress.
“Your wife is still with you at the moment, she hasn’t run off. Be grateful, tell her that.”
I felt tears come up when I read that. Thank you for your kind words. I realise that.
white knight - thank you also. An affair isn’t something that’s on the cards. I must clarify that the night out wasn’t completely out of nowhere as we used to do it all the time. It’s just been quite a while. But it’s an example of things that I’m left out of but mainly due to one of us having to stay at home with the little one, apart from major events like the odd wedding. She tells me (stone heartedly) that she doesn’t need anyone in her life. I know myself it’s not a priority for her, nor am I. She’s never had that much personal ‘desire’, she’s outgrown that.