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
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 wrong...it 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!
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.