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Am really upset by this. Am I overreacting? - trigger warning historic sexual abuse

(21 Posts)
toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 06:00:04

My Dh and I are rarely intimate. This has been going on for years. I bring it up, he gets defensive.

It's quite complicated. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and so for a long time he was terrified of triggering me. I know what I want though and I am more than able to know how to handle a flashback. I have also tried to talk to him about how he can help me if the situation arises. I did have a flashback early on in our relationship during sex and again on our honeymoon.

For a long time this was the issue, although I felt I was being punished for my past (something else my abuser took from me. On top of this when I was pregnant with our first child he found it difficult as he was worried about hurting the baby. She is now 13. There are times when our sex life is non existent. When it does happen it makes me realise what I am missing and I want this more regularly whereas he doesn't. He says his sex drive isn't as high as mine.

I reported man that abused me. The lead up to trial was stressful. Made by worse by the fact I discovered DH was sexting an ex colleague.
He told me he was so stressed and he had done this as an escape and he could do things he couldn't ask me to do as he was worried about triggering me. I was so hurt and angry. He had done this with someone else all the time whilst rejecting me. That was 5 years ago. We went to relate. Our relationship improved but intimacy has always been a bit hit and miss.

I have told him I need more. I have told him I can't live like a nun. Nothing changes. It's next just the sex I miss but the intimacy. The passionate kisses. The other night I laid the cards down and told him how unhappy I was, how I can't live like this. I joked "don't make me join Tinder". He laughed. I told him I was serious. A bit later on I said something suggestive and he sighed and rolled his eyes. I was so hurt and upset and went to the bathroom and cried.

The next day he sent me a big bunch of flowers (something he hasn't done in ages). He has been trying to be more affectionate and kissing me, but not for long. I want long slow deep kisses. I miss them. If I see a film where there is a passionate kiss I burst into tears. It feels so long since I've had this.

Yesterday I texted him whilst he was at work and told him I miss those early days of hardly coming up for air. He implied he would put this right later. I asked him when he came home what we were going to do and he told me he was going to be kissing his wife.

We had dinner, settled the children down. We were in bed around 10:30 last night and he started to send someone a really long text. I asked him who he was texting. He told me he was texting the mother of a pupil (he is a driving instructor). I said (teasing) "would you rather be texting the mother of a pupil or kissing your wife?". He snapped and said "for god's sake I'm working! I will be with you in a minute".

I was so angry about this. I'm not a patient at the dentist. Does he just expect me to wait around until he is ready? I feel like I've been doing this for years already. I responded "I'm not laying her waiting for you" turned over and went to sleep.

I'm so angry. I do have complex PTSD and so have difficulty regulating my emotions and once my anger is triggered it takes me a while to calm down. I have been awake since 4am still feeling really angry. It was just so dismissive especially given the conversations we have been having.

I love him. He is the first relationship I have have where I felt loved. But I have felt undesired for so long. He seems to be trying to rectify this but last night I felt like I was a source of irritation as do low down on his list of priorities.

Am I being over sensitive? Please don't tell me to leave him as I don't want to. I just want us back. DDs are 13 and nearly 8. We never have time to ourselves which doesn't help.

Sorry for the long rant. Please be gentle.

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Windmillwhirl Sat 29-Aug-20 06:12:47

Honestly, this isnt going to get better. He's had years to sort out his libido if he wanted to.

If you want intimacy, you need to end this relationship. I also think the worrying about triggering you is an excuse.

Suzi888 Sat 29-Aug-20 06:23:39

Hi op, you’ve provided a fair bit of information here and like you say a lot of it is very complex. You’ve clearly had a very difficult past.

You don’t want to leave him and you love him. You’ve had a blip with him sexting, presuming nothing has happened since to make you doubt him.
I do find it odd he’s messaging a mother of a pupil at 10.30, given his profession... was it really necessary for him to be doing that then! that would have irritated me slightly.

You seem a little full on to me, I’d find it smothering. (I know I’ll be ripped apart for saying this, but it’s just my opinion, not saying it to be unkind to you) He’s told you he has a lower sex drive, you’ve said he makes you feel loved and is trying to be more affectionate.
You ‘burst into tears if you see a couple kissing on tv’ that’s a bit over the top. You can’t help your reaction, you feel how you feel... but I think you may need some additional assistance to deal with your emotions.

FippertyGibbett Sat 29-Aug-20 06:51:53

You’ve said you don’t want to leave so I think you just need to accept him as he is, I doubt he will change.
You seem to want the passion of youth but I’m afraid that that tends to fade.
He has said his sex drive is low and he was caught sexting a colleague, why stay when he is not what you want ?
You may find he gets tired of these constant demands.

toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 09:36:29

@Suzi888 I burst into tears because I miss it. We NEVER have sex unless I initiate. And even then I am often rejected. The last time we had sex was 6 months ago. He has been unwell and had been having tests. I have not expected anything during this time, and have been supportive. He has since has the all clear and is starting to feel better. But 6 months between isn't unusual. He says he loves me. He says he still finds me attractive. The affection has been a new thing recently but I think that is because I was clear that I've has enough. He is trying and that's good but he was so bloody rude and dismissive.

The texting pupils at all hours is something he has always done. It drives me nuts. There is no down time. I rarely feel that he puts our relationship first.

OP’s posts: |
toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 09:41:08

He stopped initiating when I had flashbacks early on. Ironically he said he wouldn't initiate as he didn't want to be rejected. Yet it's ok for him to reject me. I have pointed this out in the past but if fell on deaf ears. It's only this week he seems to be listening. Yet at a time when we are trying to rebuild our intimate relationship he sits there texting a pupils mum and when I joke about it he bites my head off.

This is a man who regularly in the past, when I have had a bad day and have said I need a hug when you come home, has said he will wait until we get into bed and promptly fallen asleep.

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category12 Sat 29-Aug-20 09:43:46

Oh it all sounds a bit of a mess. I feel like he probably feels pushed into doing something that doesn't feel natural to him. And he was kind of putting it off. And obviously that he's not keen is incredibly hurtful.

Maybe it's worth going to relationship counselling? Or a specific sex related therapy?

toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 11:11:47

I would go to sex therapy I don't know whether he would. He is incredible private. I wouldn't force him to be intimate. I know what that's like. I feel like I spent my childhood and teenage years not wanting sex but being forced to have it and the past 13 years wanting it but not getting it.

He once said the abuse had tarnished everything (leading up to the trial). It was one of the worst things he could have said (without meaning to). I already feel tarnished, unlovable, disgusting, like there is something wrong with me. The fact that a man (because men always want sex right?), my husband who loves me, doesn't want me, is so painful. That is why I cry. By showing me affection, kissing me (during sex) would all help to be me in the present. Part of the issue is he knows what happened (not in detail as he doesn't want to) so therefore it's like he doesn't want to do those things with me. Even though I have said I want him to do those things with me, and it's different. I was a child then. I didn't want to. I was forced. I'm an adult now, he is the man I love and I really want to.

OP’s posts: |
Suzi888 Sat 29-Aug-20 11:14:34

@toothfairy73 I understand you are very hurt by his behaviour and you have communicated this to him.
I think you have two choices, wait and see what happens and accept that his sex drive (and affection needs) isn’t that high and take it as it comes. Perhaps a date night, but with no expectations, no phones, so that you at least have his undivided attention.
Leave him and look for someone else who can fulfil your needs.

toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 11:18:44

@Suzi888 I would love a date night with no phones. Have 2 daughters and limited money and babysitting options makes it difficult. Even on date nights he has been texting pupils.... apparently if they are offered a test and he doesn't get back to them to confirm he can do it they could lose the slot. But this is partly why I was so upset last night. We had dedicated time to us, yet he was texting a pupils mum and when I joked it he blew up at me

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Lillygolightly Sat 29-Aug-20 11:21:37

Hi OP, I’m so sorry about your past, I think unfairly and sadly for you I think is a contributing factor in your current relationship struggles.

You said you had flashbacks early on in your relationship and on your honeymoon, whilst I know will have been terrible for you, was also difficult for him. He loves you, and him showing you that love in an intimate way has caused you hurt and I’m sure the last thing he wanted is to be the cause of you reliving any trauma.

In the early days of most relationships it can be difficult to get a good gauge on how you will match up sexually in years to come. The feeling giddy, the lust and just the newness of everything can hide a lot of incompatibility.

I think he is probably being honest when he says he loves you and still finds you attractive etc. I think though he’s developed a deep seated fear of triggering/hurting/upsetting you and he is so intensely aware of it that he probably struggles to let himself go because the first and last thing on his mind is being careful of you. I think you’ve almost become like a very delicate and much loved piece of fine bone China that he admires from a distance that he dare not touch in case he breaks it. In order to protect you and himself, he has created what he sees as a safe distance between you, to protect you and thus in doing so he has unintentionally killed the intimacy. It’s almost like he has switched that part of himself off to you (in order to keep you safe, he almost protecting you from himself), therefore when you want that from him he struggles to switch it on again. I doubt it’s that fact that he just doesn’t want to, and more to do with that he finds it hard to reopen and awaken those feelings and that even when he does his main thing is worrying about you.

It’s worth knowing that I’m sure he hadn’t necessarily done any of this intentionally and he probably hasn’t got a clue of how to start changing it or fixing it. From what you’ve said it does sound like he wants to fix it (sent you flowers attempted to make and effort) but that when it actually comes time to do it, (when you get to bed) he’s not really sure how to do it and finds himself frozen by the familiar feeling of worrying about triggering you.

I think you both need a therapist who you see together who is experienced in dealing with past sexual abuse who helps couples like you (you will not be the only couple who will have struggled with this same issue) to overcome fears and nurture the intimacy in a safe way. Would he agree to that do you think?

category12 Sat 29-Aug-20 11:23:39

Men don't always want sex - a lot of them seem to have lower sex drives than women in relationships - it's one of those toxic social stereotypes.

But even if he is an incredibly private person, if he wants to get your relationship on track, surely he might agree to try counselling or sex therapy? I would at least try to get him to go, perhaps as an individual as well as a couple.

FippertyGibbett Sat 29-Aug-20 11:36:35

We used to have a great sex life, except I wanted more but he worked away a lot.
Then it started to slip away. I’ve asked, begged and cried. I’ve cried myself to sleep at night waiting for him to come up.
A bottle of wine was more appealing.
Fast forward a couple of years and we’ve had sex maybe 3 times this year, but not in the last couple of months.
Frankly, I don’t want to any more. I don’t fancy him and I don’t think I love him.
I don’t particularly want sex either but that’s maybe because of my age.
If I get the urge I sort it myself, and I never saw myself as being that person.
Maybe I’d want sex if I was with someone else, who knows ?
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think it will get any better, and perhaps getting out and finding someone who wants the same as you is the answer.
Do you want to stay if it’s going to be like this in 5, 10, 20 years time ?

Elieza Sat 29-Aug-20 11:36:40

Do you ever see the tests he is sending to pupils or their parents? Is he really texting them? Have you seen his phone recently?

I would be raging if I had a driving instructor texting me that late as it would wake me up. I think it’s unprofessional. Normal people don’t text after 9pm unless it’s to a close friend/relative.

That, and the fact he has been rejected by you on occasion makes me wonder if he fears your rejection again so he’s turned to sexting women instead for relief as that’s easier than hurting you or getting rejected.

That, plus his health issues (which I’m wondering if thats depression or anxiety meaning he’s on meds- some of which drop libido) might mean he doesn’t want to try in case he can’t rise to the occasion. As he gets offended by rejection, his own body rejecting his wishes will hurt his feelings too.

Google the meds he is on or get the leaflet out the box and see if you can see any negative effects re libido as side effects. If there is, speak with his about it and get him to go to his gp for alternative meds which won’t affect him in this way.

If he won’t try then I’d suggest he’s not sufficiently interested in keeping your relationship alive.

Difficult times. There are lots of threads on MN from partners in relationships where the other one isn’t interested in sex.

If you go to a sex therapist I believe the first thing they say is to take sex off the table and do other stuff instead, like fully clothed cuddles only, then in underwear etc gradually increasing what you do over the weeks, knowing that there is no pressure to have sex.

None for the first few sessions. You mustn’t be tempted. You are not allowed.

This creates a safe space for both to get a massage or kiss or cuddle only whatever and no fear of what’s expected next.

Then they say you can gradually increase what you do to full sex over coming weeks.

You could discuss that with him and see if he’s up for trying?

SoulofanAggron Sat 29-Aug-20 12:08:50

If it's work, it's work, sending a text only takes a couple of minutes. It's not unreasonable to ask you to wait a minute as he has to deal with some work.

have difficulty regulating my emotions and once my anger is triggered it takes me a while to calm down

You don't have to just accept this or expect those around you to accept it. DBT therapy can help you regulate your emotions. EMDR therapy can help with the effects of traumatic memories.

SoulofanAggron Sat 29-Aug-20 12:19:25

Sorry I had forgotten a bit of the OP's post. Like PP's I would be suspicious.

Suzi888 Sat 29-Aug-20 12:28:27

Arrange something - I know it’s difficult. If the girls could stay elsewhere overnight and just stay at home and watch a movie or go to a Wetherspoons- doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Maybe he can limit the use of his phone during that time. Let him no, that there’s no pressure for anything to happen.

I think he blew up because he feels a little bit hounded...

I don’t think men want sex all the time, certainly not all men in any case. My hubby goes through phases which depends on work commitment and how tired he is. How old is he op? Has he ever had an issue performing? Do you think he has issues surrounding your abuse? There seems to be some hesitance on his part that he will hurt you and you say he has triggered you once before? If I understand that properly. I’m sorry I don’t have much experience with abuse, so apologies if I have the wrong end of the stick.
How often would you like to have sex? Could a toy help in that department.

toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 16:11:32

Thank you @Lillygolightly xxx @Elieza the thought of meeting someone knew is terrifying and have to learn to trust someone new. @SoulofanAggron I've been trying to get EMDR or DBT. The local mental health team have decided "I'm not ready". Even though I am. I have had loads of physical health issues and tests for 10 years. They finally realised it was somatic flashbacks and complex PTSD. Neuropsychiatrist referred me to a specialist trauma service, local CCG wouldn't pay, made me go to the local team and now they won't help. I've had a years worth of counselling through rose crisis and another 5 years of therapy early on in our relationship. I hadn't dealt with the rape though and those flashbacks became worse Pretrial (he is in prison now BTW).

I've forgotten who said this, but whoever said about me rejecting him, I have never rejected him. Not once. The first flashback I cried during sex and he stopped. On the honeymoon I was upset afterwards. I have never (and would never) reject him.

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toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 16:13:42

Also, the texts are definitely to pupils

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PicsInRed Sat 29-Aug-20 16:48:48

Honestly? I think he used the knowledge of your childhood abuse to more effectively domestically abuse you - he knew what buttons to push to hurt you most, then gaslighted you into thinking it was your own "ishoos" at fault. Nasty.

It's a common abuser tactic to get background info early on and use it later.

No doubt you had trauma to work through, but the problem here wasn't you. The problem was that he was using that trauma to further abuse you.

toothfairy73 Sat 29-Aug-20 18:28:56

@PicsInRed I don't know. This doesn't feel like it fits. We were so close and strong before children. I told him willingly (I disclosed, it was my choice). I think he genuinely struggles with it, and expressing his emotions. The only time I have felt gaslighted has when I suspected something wasn't right, he fobbed mr off and then I discovered the text messages. He does find it really difficult to apologise (In person) but can do it by text (or flowers). This is the first time he has bought me flowers after an argument in years though. I think he knows I've really had enough now and is trying. There has been so much that has gotten in the way. We both have to work so hard to keep our heads above water. During lockdown it was lovely to actually spend time together. The children are hard work. One is suspect to be on the spectrum (we are under CaMHS as she has MH issues too), the other is constantly seeking attention so there is little time for us. During this time off school they have been staying up later and later which means we have no evenings together alone either, only once they are finally asleep which doesn't help.

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