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Midlife crisis or PTSD (Page 1)

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I am trying to figure out what my wife is going through or if she is just really done with our relationship. We were college sweethearts and have been together for the past 21 years, married 14 of those years and now have 2 boys, 8 and 5. I knew we had issues to work on, but until recently, I thought we were going to make it a life time. In fact, when her brother had gotten a divorce, she was very angry with him and said "that would never happen to us".

I have a lot of information to put in here, so bare with me. We would get into some heated arguments, nothing physical, but I would get pretty angry and it's just recently that I found out that it would scare her. I have now realized this and am on a path of my own to figuring out these anger issues. But back to the subject.

About 6 months ago she began to lose weight and started hanging out with a 24 year old co-worker. While this was going on, she became noticeably distant from me. We went from having a great sex life to nothing at all. I know what some of you are thinking, but I truly believe there is not another man. She says it all changed when we had an argument and at that moment she felt something just snapped in her.
She has made the comment that she just went numb inside and doesn't feel any connection with me anymore.


I thought she was going through a midlife crisis as she told me she "just doesn't feel the same about me and is not in love with me anymore". She feels that maybe we should get a separation in hopes that it would rekindle the lost passion between us. Both boys are now in school all day and most of those days, she leaves the house and goes shopping or hangs out with this younger friend. She is neglecting the house and feels that she doesn't have to explain her whereabouts to me. A year ago, we would be able to tell each other about our days in a normal conversation. Now it's like pulling teeth just to find out about her day. We used to check in with one another during the day, and now when I call her, she just seems annoyed. She has completely shut me out along with her closest friends and family.

I thought it was pretty cut and dry as she is to turn 40 this year. But I started to question that thought when I started to get information about her past that she never really shared with me.

She grew up with an alcoholic father with a lot of arguing between her mother and father. He was also know to get into such a rage that he hit her with a belt. She talks about a time when she got hit so hard that it left a mark on her leg and that she was embarrassed because the mark showed below her chearleading skirt. She also talked about a time when she was 14 years old, she was in the bath tub and a small fire broke out in the house. Her mom ran out of the house and left her there. When she talks about these events, she kind of laughs about it and says no big deal as its all in the past.

It was shortly after this that her parents separated and that she was left alone to fend for herself. When her parents finally divorced she was about 16 and living in her moms house. By this time her brother and sister were of to college and her mom had a new boyfriend. She made a comment to her sister once that she felt abandoned.

At this time, she had started dating a boy who was in college and everyone thought he was such a great guy. I just found out this week that she was not ready to have sex and he forced his way on her. This happened a number of times and she didn't even realize that what was happening was wrong. He even made threats against her when we met and she wanted to break up with him. She was so scared to tell him, she broke out in hives when she finally did.

I am wondering if when I get angry, she gets upset and feels like she is reliving her time with her father or those moments with her boyfriend. She has gone as far as saying she had questions about our entire relationship from getting married to having children. As just an example, when we decided to have children, she went off the pill and we would plan when she was ovulating that it was a good time to try. She paints a very different picture now and says that we were fooling around and I threw her on the bed and said, come on, we are doing this. Has she misplaced her experience with her old boyfriend with me. We have always had consensual sex and typically when she initiated it. I am very bothered by this.

It is like I woke up one morning to a different person and all her past beliefs are totally out of wack. She almost acts like she doesn't even like me anymore and when I ask her what she is looking for, she just says "who says I am Looking for anything, I just feel like I would be happier alone". Her dad is now a recovering alcoholic and has apologized a number of times and she acts like no big deal as it's all in the past. She refuses counseling as she says it is not going to change the way she feels about me, so why bother. She doesn't see the big picture. Is this a midlife crisis, ptsd, or does she just not love me anymore. What do I do?
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replied November 16th, 2009
Experienced User
visit www.coping.org and go to Goal Setting in Relationships topic. This should help.
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replied November 16th, 2009
Experienced User
I feel compassion for you.

Please don't start investigating her past for explanations. Finding valid reasons for her behavior is not going to change it.

Secrecy is Bad!!! She has become highly secretive with you. Her decision to hang out with this young friend spells affair to me.

I would start looking at making choices without her in your plans anymore. I'm sure that thought is very painful.

Unfortunately, she has become highly deceptive and you can't trust her anymore. Perhaps she's always had an inclination in that direction. I wish you a bright future.
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replied November 16th, 2009
I might seem naive, but i can honestly say I really don't think there is someone else. She seems to exhibit traits from both midlife crisis and PTSD. Either way, she seems to be in some kind of crisis and or depression. Not to mention her mood and thought process seems to be all over the place. Again, it might seem like I am grasping for straws, but she still sleeps in the same bed with me. I feel like that is huge.
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replied November 16th, 2009
Experienced User
that's right you can't just conclude that someone is disloyal without knowing facts. When my mom left my dad he thought she was having an affair. NOT TRUE she was severely sick with depression. It really grabbed ahold of her so she moved back to her home town where she could be close to her mom and sister. My dad lost hope. You can HANG IN THERE. It is an illness but unlike 25 years ago there are really good and amazing treatments out there for people with mental illness. Don't let the stigma fool you. Just continue to support and love her.
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replied November 16th, 2009
Experienced User
I'll do my best!
I'm not in the situation. I can tell that you love her dearly.

I really don't know what to say to you. I don't understand her unwillingness to participate in marriage counselling.

My therapist gave me this wisdom: "Secrecy is really bad." It's an obvious, simple statement. I think it's so true. Usually when people become very secretive, it's because something really bad is going to happen. That's just been my experience.

The reason I responded to this post is partly because I have ptsd. It's much improved from when it was really difficult to manage.

Not everyone's experience is the same. I can't understand her becoming cold in the relationship based on events from years and years ago. I had a time when I didn't have relationships with people because it seemed scary. I desperately wanted to connect, yet I didn't want to. This person is your wife. She's been there with you. I just don't understand her becoming so secretive. Anger issues can be a part of ptsd. I'm not a mental health professional. My statements are just opinion. My opinion is: If there was some kind of trigger for this behavior, then it could make sense. Say for example, an assault of some kind. I just think ptsd symptoms would have been noticed by you earlier without such a factor, if she's still deeply troubled about these old events. The fact that she's active and doing things is not usually what happens. People with bad ptsd symptoms don't want to go out in public or make new friends.

It sounds like she's not taking responsibility for how she's behaving in your marriage.

I will say this. I had someone who was very important to me--not on a wife level. This person had bipolar (she said) or maybe some other disorder and trying to understand her didn't help. I thought I understood a lot--really, what I was doing was connecting conjecture with some facts. Maybe I did understand a lot. I had compassion, and it didn't alter her behavior.
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replied November 16th, 2009
I think she went cold when she felt that she just went numb inside. She can't feel anything and therefor thinks she doesn't love me anymore. I feel like when we had the argument and she felt scared, she went back to the time of childhood and her dad going into a rage or the time with her boyfriend when he threatened her. It was a really bad time for her and I don't think she ever dealt with it. The only way she could cope with that loss of control was to try and control everything in her life after that. She has always been a bit of a control freak.

As far as taking control of it, I don't think she knows how. I look at everything going on and try to piece it together in a logical way. She is living right now in an emotional way and acting very irrational.

As far as being active and doing things, she has pretty much shut me out and all of her closest friends and family. I think she leaves the house as an attempt to run away. And her new friend doesn't know her or her past so she can escape from it with her and not have to face anything. Same reason she refuses counseling. The problem is, you can only ignore the big elephant in the room for so long.

Unfortunately, I think she is not being very responsible because I don't think she knows how. Again, she thinks she is in control but it looks to me like she is all over the place. We can talk about the boys and carry on a conversation, she still wears her wedding ring, we still sleep in the same bed, yet when she talks to some people, she acts like she can barely keep it together being in the same house. It just seems like a very irrational state of mind and that she is trying to get sympathy or attention.

I don't know. So much going on and so little i can do. Thanks for your responses.
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replied November 16th, 2009
Experienced User
Stay calm and be patient. This is one of those moments that can make or break a relationship. If you stay calm and observe her like a picture who is there with you and wears her wedding ring and sleeps beside you she will probably come to her senses. It could be early menopause. She might also be sensitive if it is around her cycle. The best you can do is encourage her to eat 7-8 servings of vegetables, 5 starch choices, 3 milk servings, and 2 protein servings. Just put it out there and see how she reacts. This is a moment that can bring you two closer than before. Just hold on.
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replied November 17th, 2009
Experienced User
You're a thoughtful person. I read your original post again.

I'll take a fresh perspective.

Alright. I kind of overlooked how I would run around to waste time to escape ptsd symptoms. I would isolate myself, and I would also have periods where I ran around a lot to stores and places to avoid responsibilities. I was very agitated and not wanting to deal with anything. I would befriend people who would participate with me in essentially destructive ways. As you stated, running around to places and having this young friend is escapist. I definitely have done escapist things a lot when my ptsd or depression was bothering me.

I will say that the numb feeling is very real. It does make it hard to speak to people you are close with. I was very on edge about someone asking me about what I've been doing--as simple, as asking me where I went. I felt shame about being out of control, though I tried to hide it. I would have bursts of anger at those who tried to connect with me, or I pretty much just ignored them. I suspect that she knows she's out of control, and doesn't want to deal with it.

When I had that numb feeling, I didn't pursue involvement with anyone in an intimate way. I didn't feel love at the time--that's how it felt. Whether that's ptsd or a deep depression, a person can feel like good emotions may not happen again. I didn't even know if I could feel happiness again--that was the experience.

Seeing a therapist started to open my emotions and I could feel again. It's critical for her to go.

Many people, including myself, don't want to go at first. I didn't go until it became unmanageable.

I hope it works out for you.
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replied November 17th, 2009
At her last checkup, the doctor did mention she could be in early stages a menopause as she does exhibit some symptoms.

I desperately want her to see a therapist. It's getting her to realize this. I nor anybody else can get her to as this would probably set her off because she is in such a defensive mode right now.

How to get her there with out pushing is the big question right now.
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replied November 17th, 2009
Experienced User
Therapy is pushing it a little bit because personally I've worked with therapists and it didn't resolve anything it just made me more depressed and more at risk. There is research you can do about therapy so that you understand and set guidelines for yourself to expect improvements. However, unless your wife expects improvements, therapy will not work. You can't force it on her. The best thing to do would be to research Dialectic Behavioral Therapy. You can research EMDR as well which is for trauma - it might be suitable for your wife. However it's not recommended to use on people with rape because it will bring her back to those memories. That might be one of the reasons she's struggling. Because she desperately wants to move away from that feeling of when her power was taken. I still think she wants empowerment most of all because it may seem to her when you get upset or tell her she needs therapy that you are trying to control her. This is an important time to pick up the positive dictionary and soothe the senses. She needs to feel comfortable. Putting pressure on her is NOT the best option. Talking about trauma is NOT a good idea. Reliving those moments is extremely uncomfortable, sorry to say. One of the best things I got out of my treatment when I finally did submit, was to NURTURE MY INNER CHILD.
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replied November 17th, 2009
Experienced User
It's not unusual for a person to go through more depression or anxiety when first going to a therapist because they will be discussing very intimate details of trauma and life.

The things is that the person is usually already depressed and anxious prior to meeting with a therapist--that's why most people go.

As far as convincing her to go. I really don't have an answer either. Hopefully, she will see the necessity of it. Therapy is not magic. It can provide structure and safety for discussing important issues and growing.

Of course, selecting the right therapist is of utmost importance. It's a personal decision. A person should select someone they feel comfortable with.

I would advise against the go it alone approach. Therapy happens in the context of a relationship between a therapist and his or her patient. Relationships are healing.

Most people are reluctant to see a therapist because they see it as some sort of confirmation that they are not "normal"--that they have mental health issues. It's a lot of stigma to some.
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replied November 17th, 2009
I never mention to her that I think she should go see a therapist. This would set her off as she thinks she has everything figured out. I am seeing one on my own to help me get through this, maybe get some tools to help me with her and to work on my own issues. I was also hoping she might be inspired to follow me in a new direction.

Right now she seems to think the unhappiness in her life is from our relationship. If she ends that, then problem solved.

It's like watching a train wreck and there is nothing you can do about it. Very frustrating.
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replied November 17th, 2009
Experienced User
I don't know then it sounds complex, try and stay on a higher note and stay uplifting. If its depression then I am sure she is keeping her sanity by having you around. She may not recognize it but I'm sure there are things in her life she has always wanted from when the abuse/trauma started and I don't think she will be happy until she gets those things. You can ask her if there's anything she's always wanted in her childhood and young adulthood. I was told by a good therapist that I would not be happy until I got what I wanted. It was simple I wanted to live with my mother who I was taken from at age four. Now I'm 23 and I live with my mom. It's my childhood dream come true and I am very happy. Pay close attention to the things you can do to make her feel more empowered and valuable/cherished, I'm sure a loving nurturing family is at the top of the list. If she doesn't feel able to be intimate for the moment the tension will grow like a new relationship and you'll reach that level again. There is a lot of tension and it sounds like a lot of anticipation for you and her to make changes happen. It sounds odd but my whole life I had the maturity level of a five year old from the first childhood trauma I experienced. It may appear to you like a train wreck but it is really her inner child just being confused because a repetitive situation like this is extremely difficult to understand from the mind of a young girl. I have a feeling she will understand things better over time.
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replied November 17th, 2009
Experienced User
so things like kissing her forehead and rubbing her face, she probably wants a good adult man figure in her life who is patient with her and understanding, who wants to take her for ice cream cones and see that she always feels beautiful and has a smile on her face. Someone who makes her laugh.

Imagine if birds were tickled by feathers. Someone who is playful and soft. But strong.
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replied November 17th, 2009
Experienced User
I feel for you.

I know what it's like to try to communicate with someone who's unresponsive to the open arms approach.

I just wouldn't want you to invest so much of yourself into trying to figure out why she is acting the way she is. You will feel really wounded if you put all this effort in and the results aren't what you want. It's one of the worse feelings to have.

Just from my experience, when a person shows signs of instability and another tries to help and the the person is unresponsive, it's really bad for the self-esteem of the person trying to rescue. You'll start questioning everything.

I had people in my life with all kinds of issues. Every unstable person I knew who was behaving very selfishly turned on me and exited my life, despite all the goodness I showed. It's a truth for me... My advice is this: Don't lose sight of your boundaries in this. Don't think of her as being the only one who is important. Keep in mind that you and your boundaries are important also.
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replied November 17th, 2009
I can't get near her. Physically or emotionally. In fact, it was a little over a month ago, I remember sitting on the couch with her and I started to rub her feet and it physically made her sick to her stomach. There has been only two times in the past four months when she actually reached out and gave me a hug.

So, she has completely detached herself from me and there are times when I feel like she is seperating from our boys who she absolutely adores.
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replied November 17th, 2009
Experienced User
I'm so sorry to hear that.

I just hope you protect yourself in this. Be careful about how much you invest of yourself.
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replied November 19th, 2009
Experienced User
I agree that you shouldn't invest yourself in this too much. But look at it this way. If you ever go to shake her hand you can kiss it. If you say lets make a deal and shake on it. I'm not sure what it could be, however. Let it be known that you have to win her over again. That's how women work. We want to be won over.
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replied November 19th, 2009
Experienced User
Lets make a deal and shake on it. You put the boys to bed mondays, wednesdays, fridays, and I'll put them to bed tuesdays, thursdays and weekends. Something like that. Or meals. Or lunches.
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