Difficult Discussions Build Trust and Intimacy

I did it. I talked to him again. I didn’t run away. I didn’t hide. I told hubby what was on my mind, he listened, and then told me what was on his mind.  Sounds so simple, right? But it can be the most terrifying experience to make myself vulnerable like that and venture into unknown territory. And this component was never a part of our marriage before. Yes, of course we had conversations, but never about ourselves, our needs.

I set the stage for discussion by writing and gathering my thoughts. I actually do this before every visit with my therapist, or any planned *tough talk*. I have found it helps me to do the thinking first, just write down my thoughts and feelings in isolation, and then I have a pool of things to bring up or say to keep a conversation on track and say what I need to say.  I have a history of shutting up and walling off before ever saying what I wanted, so this has been a helpful process for me. Almost like I said it once already – to the paper – so it is not quite so hard to say it to the person. But I did not intend hubby to find this document, as it was worded quite harshly, as I vented my anger and disappointment on to that poor undeserving paper. At first I panicked when he told me he read it, as I quickly tried to recall what I wrote in there. But when I saw he was not angry, the panic subsided, but my mind was still whirling and needing feedback. I waited for him to bring it up that night, but when he didn’t, I found myself frozen, unable to ask him. He seemed fine, so should I just let it go? The next day, I sent him an email apologizing for the harsh words and that I did not mean to hurt him if I did. I also told him that it was not yet resolved for me, and I needed a discussion, but was having trouble starting it. I had hoped that would bring him to me. But that evening, the same thing happened – he seemed fine, made no comment about the email, and life continued as usual. Now, this sends me into a bad place, where I doubt my own reality. Because you see, every morning my dad would be at the breakfast table, eating cheerios, talking to my brothers, like he hadn’t slipped into my room and molested me. I learned to follow his cues, that if he thought it was normal, then it must be normal, and it also must be something we don’t talk about. I hate that I revert to that style of thinking so easily, but at least I recognize it now, and can overcome it.

Last night, I felt obligated to follow my new pledge of speaking about current issues, and never letting more than 3 days go by without a needed discussion. I am fully committed to making this relationship work, so I am still following this rule, even though I could have easily let 3 weeks, 3 months, hell, even 3 years go by without ever speaking my mind. I went for about 2 hours with the phrase in mind, all ready to say to him, but could not make my tongue move. Finally, we go to bed, and somehow the safety of the dark room, plus him holding me tight, gave me the strength to say “So, I didn’t get a response about my email . . .” My heart was pounding, I was actually sweating, and dizzy even though I was lying down, the fear was so great to confront him and rock the boat once again. I immediately wished I hadn’t said anything and delivered a self-attack on “why can’t I just be happy”, “he is going to hate me or at least be angry”, “this is going to drive us apart and ruin everything we’ve had so good lately” on and on and on my own inner voice hated on me.

Until his real voice answered. “I’m sorry it takes me so long to answer you. I don’t analyze things the way you do every day, so I was really looking inward in a way I have never done before. I don’t know for sure, but I do think I have some answers for you, but it is going to sound terrible to say it out loud and I’m so afraid to hurt you and have you run away from me again”

Wow. Just wow. We went on to discuss some very difficult issues in our marriage, we both expressed some unmet needs, and we both promised to turn towards each other, rather than away to meet those needs. It was amazing. He is amazing. And he is hurting. He has been my protector for so long and he carries so much guilt for my internal pain. He takes it on personally when I am unhappy and still carries so much grief for watching me go through so many depressions over the years. He has not forgiven himself yet.

And here is the big one. His biggest fear, is that I will eventually leave him, or at least pull away again and rip out his heart. I certainly have a history of this, of asking for divorce when I reach my limit rather than asking for a discussion for the little things. So I truly have been able to have a fresh start, fall in love, and do everything I should have been doing all along but was never before able. For him, it isn’t a fresh start, he didn’t have to fall in love, his has been there steady all these years. What a good man I have. I am so grateful. And I  am so sorry how I have hurt him. I can’t undo all that, all I can do is look forward and be there for him now. I am happy he is in counseling now, and hopeful he can build trust with his therapist and eventually move past all that pain. The pain I caused him. Ugh.

So I am going to look for support and references on loving someone with an abusive past, loving someone who hates herself, loving someone who has depression and is suicidal. I have never really thought about what he went through, because I never believed he loved me, that anyone could love me. Now that I see this component, I see how he has suffered in silence through the years. Ugh again.

My heart is heavy today, with all these new realizations, but also very hopeful that we now have the foundation to build a marriage. It’s like we are newlyweds, and we have this chance to try again. Thank you God. Thank you for this man and for allowing me to love him.

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9 thoughts on “Difficult Discussions Build Trust and Intimacy

  1. Love this. Hang onto hope. I want to be like you when I grow up. 🙂 I don’t feel like I’m capable of reaching the level of trust you’re exhibiting. You are such an inspiration. You fall down, and you get up again.

    • LOL, when you grow up. 🙂 That made me smile. I don’t feel grown up yet, wonder if that ever happens? Thank you so much. I am proud of me right now. I thought these types of life experiences were not attainable for *people like me*. Now I know that is wrong, and I want to tell the world they can have the life they want too.

  2. we have to do that too, and it is hard. We’ve been calling it our daily “couch times” and we both try to think of one difficult thing to say each night so they don’t build up and tear us apart. God bless you and your marriage.

    • Daily Couch time – how sweet! I’m thinking it is truly the secret, to never let things build up. The other component is to turn towards each other, even when hurt and angry, when it can be so easy to turn away and seek comfort elsewhere.

  3. What an amazing revelation for you and your husband. You sound so ready for this. Your life is going to be so different moving forward. I’m very happy for you. 🙂

    • Thank you Paula. I can’t believe I almost gave up on this amazing man. I am so looking forward to getting to know him even more, and to plan a long life together, like you said, moving forward. I’m still scared, but yes, I’m ready for this.

  4. Relationships go two ways so don’t beat yourself up 100% for the dynamics of your interactions. I’m sure your wonderful hubby has his own past that comes to bear on your current relationship. Intimacy can be difficult for men and women and if family dynamics lacked such relations, it can be hard for both parties. He may be sensitive and vulnerable but so are you!

    BTW–I love the way your blog is moving in a positive direction. I want to emulate YOU!

    • You are so right. And the wonderful part is that we are both owning 50% now, both seeing things so differently, both understanding how it used to be and how we want it to be. And yes, though he was not outright abused as a child, his parents are definitely not the cuddly, intimate, affectionate type. So neither of us had any background for these social skills. We’re learning! And wow, thanks for that last part, I do want to provide hope to readers, to see that hard work and not giving up pays off. That humans have so much power over their own lives if they just tap into it and face fears. I write this blog for me to sort out my thoughts, to document my journey, and to show others the ups and downs of life.

  5. Pingback: Protecting Yourself When Becoming Vulnerable and Authentic | Roots to Blossom

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