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Author Topic: Discussion The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male

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Discussion The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
OP: May 14, 2020, 03:55:08 AM
I have been struggling for a very long time with a man that ( in my experience ) is emotionally walled off, unavailable or is unaware of his own emotions. I have heard this same complaint from every women I have this conversation with and if you actually google it, there are 5 million articles about the "emotionally unavailable male". It seems common-place or normal or "just the way it is ".  I tried to accept that in my marriage as I saw the same struggle in everyone around me. That is not to say that men with high emotional IQ's and ability to share their emotions do not exist..I am positive that they do, I am just not married to one of them.  I came to accept that about him, perhaps that was a mistake.

One of my deepest hurts when my husband had an affair was he apparently "needed something emotionally"  and never confided or talked to me ...he went to another women.  So, this emotionally stoic man that held his emotions under lock and key, was ALWAYS "fine", denied being angry, sad, upset, depressed ( or any other emotion) emotionally exploded and went to another women to get whatever it was he needed. Never said a word to me about his distress and never has. He went to someone else. Whether or not he got his emotional needs met in his affair is unknown by me. Something kept his there for the better part of a year.  That action was the deepest cut there is for me.

My husband has returned and still very cautious and fearful of emotional vulnerability . I was hoping that this would have changed and he would be " a completely different and new man". No. He is not. He has " improved" but … is emotionally a stand alone kinda of man. If I ask him "are you upset?  Are you angry ? Are you sad? , 90 % of the time he will deny any of these emotions.  So, the conversation usually end there as this man needs nothing ...he is "fine". No need to apply empathy or support as he "needs" none of that. He is FINE afterall. This is one way connection never happens, empathy is never given and it feels like rejection at some level. It hurts. 

We had a conversation recently about empathy. He has been known to say/complain that he “never gets anything “.  Hmmmm?. I assume he means emotionally. How exactly you offer empathy to an emotionally closed man is something I am not understanding. If I were to try to “ put myself in his shoes “ , and his “shoes are just FINE and there is no emotion or need “ …what is there to give? . You essentially put yourself in their place and feel what they are feeling, but if they do not communicate what they are feeling … where are the shoes? I have no other option when he insists he is fine , than to believe him.  Trust me , there is no way he will admit he is anything but “fine”.  The message sent is therefor I ” need “ nothing.  And these are the same men that complain that they “ get nothing”.  What I do know is the feminine spirit is hugely damage when a man constantly needs or requires nothing from a women.  That has been my experience. I see no opening to apply empathy, support, re-assurrance …or any emotion involving nurture. My husband needs very little from me …and then complains that he gets “nothing”. 

He implies that there should always be empathy ( he does not say anything outright) . He implies that because of his past ..childhood trauma, abuse , very difficult history … empathy should be there because of his background.  No matter what he says ( I am FINE) , he really may not be and may need compassion and empathy .  His background is the very reason he cannot be vulnerable, name his emotion etc and it is safer to always be fine.   But being fine and denying emotion is rejecting empathy or emotional support.. atleast that is my reaction. There is no connection to someone who apparently does not need anything.

It is all extremely complicated and difficult. All our emotions, our histories and emotional personalities collide into a huge reactive mess . The pain of his affair is something I feel at some level every single day … EVERY day it is there.  The damage from his childhood is there every single day and keeps him locked emotionally. But that is not my responsibility or my fault. If you are unable ( for whatever reason) to show your emotional needs … then how do you have the right to complain they are not being met??   I have to become an expert at “assuming “ what he needs ( and I can do that to some degree) but he does not have to become accountable to identify his emotion, his needs and find ways to communicate them?   I believe a HUGE number of emotionally stunted or avoidant men are or become MLC’ers. How do you emotionally meet the needs of emotionally unavailable men ( or wives) when they seemingly have none or at the very least deny them. I know that a huge number of LBS are dealing with these emotionally damaged men… just how do you do that?  And why even try?  Do we "settle" for this ? Do we accept that it is just the way it is with these  men? 
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Married April 1985
5 children
Bomb Drop April 2013
Thrown out of house August 2013
Affair discovered November 2013 (i guessed who)
Home December 3 2013
The Journey Of Reconciliation .. is for the brave .

Anger is like a candle in the wind ... it blows out the light of all reason.

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#1: May 14, 2020, 05:22:46 AM
Whew Barbie,

My H sounds like yours. Everything was fine until it wasn’t. He had no emotional needs until he went and met them somewhere else with someone else.

For me.....how I am approaching it is that H talks about his emotions through work or interactions with people at work. That was my “in” so that was where I directed my validation of feelings. I validated him for feeling frustrated with his boss, or being angry at so and so, or for feeling like a failure when the numbers weren’t what they wanted them to be. Gradually (after endless months) he opened up about more stuff....but really it took about 8 months of just validating his feelings about work and boring every day stuff. And he wouldn’t ever say feelings he would say “I want to punch so and so in the face” and I would validate that it was perfectly reasonable to be ANGRY with so and so because what they did was wrong or crossed a boundary or whatever.

It helped H figure out that he was just reacting to every single emotion he had without thinking, that he DID HAVE emotions, to learn to label and name those emotions and to feel heard.

I don’t know if any of that helps. It took me a long time to see it and a very long time to be able to recognize when it was happening.
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Me 38
H 38
S17
Wallower/Chaos kid
EA discovered 3/31/2019
BD March 31 2019
He left 10/6/2020
Status: I’m done. Stbxh remorseful, texts and apologizes a lot, is in therapy and several treatment teams.
“God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his.” C.S. Lewis

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#2: May 14, 2020, 05:36:51 AM
Well, I fear I was one such man to some extend on a point of life....At least if the stories W has told carry seeds of truth. And I think the stories of MLCrs do. At least in their universe, and maybe in others too on varying degrees.

Yes, I was oftentimes all OK when or if W  asked if something was bothering me. Or then I hours later told about the pain in my back or whatever had been troubling me.

But the thing is that... I did feel emotionally all OK at the moment W asked. It was true to me. But of course the outside world was able to see/judge from my behaviour I was not (say hello to mr.grumpy and you know what I mean).

What helped me... I've learned to use the birds eye view.... Because emotions "lie", I try to observe my actions/ behaviour from the outside, and if I notice some bad behaviour (say hello to mr.grumpy) that I have on my mental checklist, then I start poking deeper.  And this poking of deeper then creates the emotion (not awareness of it, as the emotion is not there yet).

I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I actually found this approach on one of the psychology books. And it works.

And yes, this is a more common with us men.... But I have seen women who do this too (W included).

It does have name as well... Alexithymia...it sidekicks with many mental health issues, but also with some physical conditions (mine is on the list, and I think it is one of the things why W says I changed when I got ill. For my docs it took about 4-5 years to find meds that truly put illness under control, and likely it is the time I was mr.grumpy).

Alvin.
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« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 06:10:43 AM by AlvinTheMaker »
At time of BD.... Me: 43, XW: 41
Kids: G19,G18,G14,G12,S5
Together - 20½ Years, Married 19 Years

BD ("I don't love you"): Feb 2019, 
BD2 ("I don't want to fix this marriage."), Mar 2020
D filed May 2020, D finalized Dec 2020
I have moved on, and am in new relationship.

Lessons from Stoicism and REBT helped me to exit the chaos zone and become a better person. 

"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. - Epictetus"

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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#3: May 14, 2020, 05:58:03 AM
I think, talking normal life, men probably are more emotionally unavailable, but in a MLC I believe most of them are like that, male or female.  I see no difference.
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A quote from a recovered MLCer: 
"From my experience if my H had let me go a long time ago, and stop pressuring me, begging, and pleading and just let go I possibly would have experienced my awakening sooner than I did."

W
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#4: May 14, 2020, 07:12:49 AM
Well the wall is up for a reason. I think you would have to examine how he was prior to BD because life hasn't been normal since and now he is really emotionally unavailable.

I got tired of money conversations. Everything out of her mouth was a money issue. I came home from work and it was money. I went to work and there would be all day long texts about money.

On my day off. Guess what ? More money problems. Mind you, I had no money problems. I was dealing with hers.

So I became "I am Good" and just developed a deaf ear. Yes I was still available and engaging, however, the split second I heard anything about money that wall went up instantaneously and I shut her out.

Oh my goodness, KIT just destroyed her kitchen. That would be my problem to fix on my own.

To further complicate matters I never heard the end of it when I spent money on landscaping projects, planted a garden, brought something for myself. LOL, if I brought sneakers for myself then why didn't I buy the 2 boys any.

Oh you got a haircut Watcher, nice, now look at your son's head.

So she just became the person who complained about money to me. I had to solve the problems and I grew tired of it.

I would say what was bothering me and she was dismissive. She shot my concerns down constantly. Oh you have no concerns Watcher, lol. I don't believe she liked an emotionally available man, just sayin.

Now there is this crisis. He has no excuse for being emotionally unavailable nor for any of his behavior since BD or what led to BD. That is on him.

Personally I think female LBS can get away with a frying pan to the side of the head. However, I guess violence cannot be endorsed.

So I would attempt to see where he has an interest or hobby in order to get around that wall. Maybe he has a work issue he really detests. Some issue where you can be a united front. A team.

That was always my biggest complaint. We were not a team. More importantly, I felt we weren't a team. Again she dismissed it.

He has to learn to trust you. He doesnt trust you and that is no criticism btw. I want to make that clear. That's why I usually stay on my thread as we all have delicate situations.

Mine would talk to me about gardening and she got around my wall. Today if she ever talked to me, running would be another way around it.

I like to talk and be engaging. I like to be heard. No one wants to feel dismissed.

Even when we had T@G's it was about money and I just wanted to run for the door. Again she has the money problem and not I.

Yes he has his childhood issues and what he has done to you during his crisis on his plate. If you want it then your going to have to find a way around the wall.

I think he obviously has different walls. However, he has one specific to you and that's the one you need down.

I'm going back to the safety of my thread now.
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#5: May 14, 2020, 07:22:25 AM
Hi Barbie-

Great insights for sure.  I know we are all different.  I'm just being honest, mine has operated just like his father before him as a walled off village.  Unfortunately, no I wouldn't be able to settle for this again if he returned.  I too kept asking if everything was OK?  If it was someone else or didn't want to be married any longer?  "No, it's all good." 2 months before he was  caught.  I will never believe the silence again. I am now triggered by the stoic face.  That is deal breaker for me.  If he can't emotionally make himself available or operate in truth, I don't want to be the only one out there giving and not feeling he is trying.  I would hope he learns it's a risk for anyone to open up.  I don't want to feel raw and exposed like that ever again.  Just my p.o.v. for me.   :)
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#6: May 14, 2020, 07:35:39 AM
Hello,

Quote
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real

This is the start to "Hurt" sung by the late great Johnny Cash. A little while back, I wrote a post to you and managed to lose it. Probably sitting ins someone's junk email file or just disappeared. I am not trying to make excuses for your h, but based upon the post you have made about him, I can easily see how his childhood and adolescence forced him to disconnect from his emotions.

He grew up separated from his mother, lived with a violent alcoholic father, and spent many of his teenage years in temporary living situations  that did not enable him to build the emotional connections. Instead he learned to focus his energy into action and work.

I think in the beginning, you accepted him and felt some sense of obligation regarding his troubled past. After all, you married him with the knowledge of his past. All was fine until he betrayed you. I know the pain of that betrayal. Now, the acceptance and the obligation of the past are done. He returned, but the new relationship rules have been changed, not by him-but you.

Now to be fair, I always thought of reconnection being this huge emotional high. The MLCer returns to professing their true love for the LBSer and how sorry they were for all the pain they caused. The LBSer wiping the tears of joy welcoming them back into their lives. So the Hollywood story ends there. Instead, the MLCer returns home more like a washed up disshelved rat and the LBSer really contemplates even letting them through the front door let alone back into the marriage. Even after letting them back in, the MLCer often is a wreck, doesn't want to discuss anything, and just wants to act as if nothing happened at all. Kind of like the Dallas season where Bobby died, it was just a dream.

I know I am probably stating a lot of facts you really already know. So, I am going to go off topic a little. The root of the issue really lies with you. You stood by this man for years while he delved into work and did his thing, then he betrayed you and left, now you take him back for what? Its really like selling your old beat up car, having remorse, and buying it back at a higher price.

In the end, I think its your new boundary. If you can't ask or explain you needs, I can't meet them and you can't complain. It's like going into McDonald's and staring at the menu, someone asks me if I want something and I say, "I'm fine" then two hours later complaining that I'm still hungry and no one has served me.

One thing I have learned over the years, you can't control anyone. Believe me, this is coming from someone who thought he was in control of everything. You are in control of you and you are still moving forward. Life goes on. If he wants to stay stuck on a deadend street, that is his choice. You just need to stay on the freeway of life.

((((Hugs))) and more ((((Hugs)))

Ready

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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#7: May 14, 2020, 07:44:28 AM
Quote
The root of the issue really lies with you. You stood by this man for years while he delved into work and did his thing, then he betrayed you and left, now you take him back for what? Its really like selling your old beat up car, having remorse, and buying it back at a higher price.

In the end, I think its your new boundary. If you can't ask or explain you needs, I can't meet them and you can't complain. It's like going into McDonald's and staring at the menu, someone asks me if I want something and I say, "I'm fine" then two hours later complaining that I'm still hungry and no one has served me.

One thing I have learned over the years, you can't control anyone. Believe me, this is coming from someone who thought he was in control of everything. You are in control of you and you are still moving forward. Life goes on. If he wants to stay stuck on a deadend street, that is his choice. You just need to stay on the freeway of life.

I could not have said it better myself.  I think Readytofixmyselffirst is right on target.
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M
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#8: May 14, 2020, 09:01:13 AM
This thread is speaking to me today particularly what Barbie and Watcher said.  It is the wall and how we react to the wall.  My H's went up a long time before BD and he refused to speak about it, lost in his own worlds, said everything was fine.  So we compensate and accept the wall, we try to climb it a few times, and we fall, like Humpty Dumpty so a bit shattered we stop and accept the wall.  What I find most incredulous is that we were then blamed for the wall. 

Barbie, my heart goes out to you, trying once more to get through that wall--perhaps a secret door, rather than a full scale assault over the top.  Mine has been gone for a long(ish) time, so I am not the same girl.  Yours came back soon, which we all cheered, but I understand what you said about perhaps needing more time.   Hugs.

What Watcher said rings true--

Quote
I think he obviously has different walls. However, he has one specific to you and that's the one you need down.

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M 30 years at BD, together 34

t
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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#9: May 14, 2020, 10:57:15 AM
Excellent discussion, barbiedoll; I recognize so much in your share and thank you for opening the dialogue.

Before I was married to D’s dad, he took me on a trip to a city I’d always wanted to visit. It was for my birthday, a big deal birthday, one of the decade birthdays. It might have been amazing, but for various reasons, it kind of wasn’t.

First, it turned out that his best friend from high school lived there, with a new fiancée. The high school friend was so boring, and the fiancée was younger than we were and a real pill, unaccountably arrogant and difficult to have any real conversation with. They weren’t my people, and only one of them was known and only to one of us. But staying with them made the trip cheaper, so that’s what we did.

It turned out that the best friend had the same exact birthdate as mine. :/ That was fun. *cough*

The friend and the fiancée threw a big swanky dinner party at one of the city’s hottest restaurants. Their local people turned up for it and I had one of the most annoying and uncomfortable nights of my life. And I’m previously a bit of an “IT GIRL”, and usually mix very well with others and in places like that. But those people were impossible to enjoy and while one of them hit on me with bizarre hostility all night, another aggressively went after the man who had brought me there, as if he’d come especially to see her. I’ll stop there because honestly, you don’t want to hear the rest of it. If not for the fact that we ultimately did marry and have a beautiful amazing daughter from it, that night and trip were massive red flags, like, THEY GLOWED LIKE THE FIRES OF HELL, and I might wish that I had heeded those stark signals and run for the hills upon returning home.

Yuck.

I think that women just natively have language for emotions and anything else because from such a young age, we are constantly required to live fully in our bodies. So we know when there’s blood coming, when it’s with us, when it’s late, what all the signals are of menstruation and pregnancy and miscarriage and menopause. And if we are mothers, then we also know to pay attention to every minor twitch or rhythm or anomaly in the bodies or moods of babies and children and teens. Fathers do this to some degree also, but mothers may have the more natural or explicit aptitude for it. It doesn’t make anyone better or superior or whatever; it’s just a different skill set or strength. We won’t talk about how it goes deeper maybe, if anyone was traumatized in childhood, except that maybe there are two sides of that — the one where reading another person’s body language or tone or moods is a survival mechanism that works, and the other where ignoring or dismissing or automatically not registering anyone’s verbal and nonverbal expression is also a survival mechanism that works.

I’m the kind for whom reading everyone and everything is what explicitly works. H is one for whom it is so painful and frightening that he can’t. Like, ever.

It’s sad, because he is really, really smart in so many other key ways. And before MLC, he was very able to express his deepest stuff to me, and did so with abandon. And now he isn’t and doesn’t. Or, he tries from time to time. But I am so mad at the 2500 miles and years of distance and replacement, that I can’t really hear or register him fully. I mean I can’t even see him, he doesn’t telephone, and as of last November, I have no idea where he even lives. There’s an ambiguity about it but there’s also so much unresolved confusion, and so much anger.

I’m not sorry, at the moment.

barbiedoll, what I want to say here is that I think when a man (or anyone) is like this, when they’re “FINE” even you know they clearly aren’t — when they turn to give their disclosure to some jackass third party, I think they do so without much conviction or commitment. My sense of it is that they unload on the outsider because that person is “safe”? Because that person has little meaning to them, comparatively, and will neither judge them nor be around long enough to really understand how the piece that is shared fits into the overall puzzle of that Self. And because that third party is originally without history and therefore both “new” and also meaningless, once it susses out that there is a problem with or disconnect in the narrative, it’s easier to ditch that connection too.

When h was here four years ago, he avoided looking at key decor in the then-new house. I had two framed artworks that I was so pleased to show him, and to tell him why I loved them, and he literally turned his face away from both. I asked him gently why, later. He said almost painfully that he didn’t look at certain things in case they were then taken away from him and he might never see them again.

It was one of the most honest and confusing things he’s ever said to me. And all I know from it really is that his inner pain runs deep channels and twists I know absolutely nothing about. And here I thought that *I* had it hard.

What I gather from experience of h is that the people he discloses to are like so many throwaway accounts. He can be anyone when he tells stories to them. The only person he can be with me, is himself. The present Self, a past Self, or some yet to be manifested future Self. But always only himself. He knows I know most of the pieces of him. He also knows I will hold all aspects accountable or in grace, or both.

Some people legitimately do not understand how to receive love, and they may legitimately fear it. Having loved, especially having loved him, I understand that fear a bit. I know you do, too.

I’m not sure how we get around it. I once tried the Human Design approach for his design type and asked only yes/no questions and was, for a while, satisfied with those blunt or gruff answers. Sometimes I rephrased a more open-ended question so many times in the same conversation that it was like trying to get the horse to drink, which amazingly he finally did. If I can find that chat in the deep archives, I’ll paraphrase it sometime here for you. It was like pulling teeth but it was successful and I don’t think it was bad or codependent or anything else negative for me to do, because it did work. The only trouble is that it’s tiring for the questioner, and it’s hard to keep up that style long enough for the answerer to register that it’s functional and can be streamlined to make it easier on both.

Communication dynamics are a discipline and maybe that’s what marital counseling is about — the showing up together on routine schedule for a structured and different or better kind of dialogue. Sometimes it seems really damned unfair that we should have to “learn” how to just even *talk* to our spouse; you’d think that after years or a decade or three together, we both would know how to have a normal and reasonable conversation. But life throws all kinds of junk into the mix. Dialogue gets cluttered with so much else.

On throwaway accounts: during that birthday trip with the man who would eventually be a husband, then D’s dad, then ex-husband, the best friend’s fiancée took us out of state to a big deal antique fair. On the long drive up in the dark, she drove with my partner sitting shotgun, and me alone in the back seat listening to them talk as if I wasn’t even there. That was a red flag too; it doesn’t make any sense to me even now.

At a gas station in the dark, I stopped breathing as the man who would eventually be my first husband told a total stranger that his last name was fabricated by his father for reasons no one understood. And that his name at birth had been something entirely different. I had known him and his father both for something like five years by then, and had never heard this story even once. I thought he was lying. But you know what? It was the truth.

He told it to some woman who was a total nobody to either of us, as if it was nothing. And it wasn’t something he wanted to talk to me about, after we returned home. Instead he bugged me for years about that trip and said wasn’t it a good trip?

Well, yes and no.

In the many years that have passed — 20 or more, with a brief marriage and a long divorce at the midpoint — I have at least realized that some topics aren’t to be discussed. Not because we are not important enough to discuss them with or to, but because we are *too* important.

If that makes sense. It flies in the face of what I had always wanted and expected of intimacy, but I understand it better now. I think what I have learned during the MLC hurt is that some hurts are really unsayable, unspeakable, and painful enough that maybe they are better left unsaid. I’ve learned that too — that I don’t have to make sure “you” understand 100% and every facet of my pain. It’s weird to describe it like this, but, it’s *my* pain. Sometimes I want to keep it all to myself, not to hoard or wield it for any reason, but just because I am still working on how to understand the ways it inhibited or defaced other aspects of my life, and whether that is still important, or why.

I didn’t ever think that a marriage was about two very self-contained persons living a life in daily and nightly tandem. If anyone had made that clear, years ago, I might never have wanted marriage as much as I did and still do. But I think now that self-containment seems the better and healthier idea. I don’t want to be responsible for managing anyone else’s past hurts anymore. I get that h has those, that I have them, that we all do. Just, at a certain point we have to be the manager of our own inner stuff, or else the train derails and it feels almost impossible to get back on a healthy track.

Sometimes I recognize that what D’s dad said then is still true — that my inner world is pacific. He meant it in the proper noun sense, like the ocean. But it was wordplay and all the definitions and intimations hold true. I think it’s true of every person alive. The inner world and history of a person, and its experience of itself, is so vast and deep and wide, and we can’t really manage it for them. Only the Self itself can do that well.

barbiedoll I hope you can have some peace in giving his self authority fully over to him. I know it hurts when the loved one confides in someone other than us, and that it’s unfair. But maybe it is just because we are far too important to show these doubtful or dark inner parts to. At some point, hopefully, there is a stirring to awareness in the MLCer that we can’t be in the dark much longer.

I’ve read for years on the EUM; I wish I could remember the title that worked best for me. It was by a woman who I think is in the UK. If I remember it, I’ll PM you. What I do know is that there were signs of emotional unavailability or lack of emotional intelligence early on, and I worked with those for several good (if touchy) years, and then MLC began and there wasn’t emotional availability anymore. Just a sh!t ton of emotional lability, which is not great to receive.

It made me wonder if in MLC, any third party gets “the best” of the MLC spouse...for a *time*.

Ultimately the real Self does factor in, and so does familiarity, and then the resultant discomfort of being known more fully. This discomfort is either something that Self is going to get used to, or keep running from.

My prayers are that your h learns to sit comfortably in being known by you. And also that this will happen without you having to become so tired by the effort of it; that a time will come when it is easier for him to trust and let down his habitual guard and just be present with you in a mutually good and continually rewarding way.

I know this was long and thank you for reading it; your thoughts give mine a reason for being.



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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#10: May 14, 2020, 05:56:21 PM
The only thing I would like to add is that there are many people who are so removed from their internal emotional state that they do not know how they feel. They are not lying when they say they are fine, they simply have detached from painful emotions. Unfortunately we can not choose which emotions we shut down. I can see for most men, sometimes from early childhood, showing emotions is seen as a weakness and is mocked. So boys are thought from an early age to not show emotions, not register them, to NOT be emotional. I guess this parallels how we tend to try to teach girls to hide themselves and to be care takers. This is not inherent in my opinion, more shaped by society and stereotypical role models.

I can share in my experience how much shock or negative reactions I come across (from men but also from women) if I am open and vulnerable emotionally. Part of it is because usually it is not expected from men. But additionally that usually leads to a lot of assumptions. It doesn’t bother me, but it is a good indicator of what is expected of most men. So it really isn’t surprising that men are conditioned to lose connection to their emotions.

And this hurts everyone.
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No Kids, 23 years at BD1 (4 years), married 21
First signs of MLC Jan '15
BD 1 Jan '17, BD 2 Mar, Separated Apr, BD 3 May,BD 4 Jun '18
First Sign of Waking up-Dec '17, First Cycle out of MLC Mar '18-Jun ‘18, Second cycle Jul '18-??
Meets OM Jan '17 and acts "in love," admits "in love" Jun '18, asks for divorce Jul '18

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#11: May 18, 2020, 11:50:03 AM
Couragedearheart:

how I am approaching it is that H talks about his emotions through work or interactions with people at work. That was my “in” so that was where I directed my validation of feelings. I validated him for feeling frustrated with his boss, or being angry at so and so, or for feeling like a failure when the numbers weren’t what they wanted them to be. Gradually (after endless months) he opened up about more stuff....but really it took about 8 months of just validating his feelings about work and boring every day stuff


My husband will occasionally voice some frustration about work related things. It is very infrequent as he tries to “leave work at work”. I find what you have written very interesting and something I will “look” for these opportunities.  If he talks about work , it is practical, logical and factual , not emotional although he might voice frustration from time to time. He will then immediately say” oh well, its only temporary, it will pass “ and change the subject. Thanks for your input .

Alvin: 
But the thing is that... I did feel emotionally all OK at the moment W asked. It was true to me. But of course the outside world was able to see/judge from my behaviour I was not (say hello to mr.grumpy and you know what I mean).

 My husband has said this ..”everything was OK at the time “. Seems he can easily detach from what may be on his mind or upset about …so to him, he is fine when I ask.  Compartmentalization ? . He is a master at it. Many times I sensed something , but waited to ask him about it until he seemed calmer or there was time.  By then, he is “fine” again. I always knew he was not…but he denied it repeatedly. Sometimes he gets frustrated and asks “what I am digging for?”.  He is suspicious somehow. It is very hurtful to be denied entry into a persons emotional spots.

I've learned to use the birds eye view....

I fully understand this concept and I also use it.  I take myself out of the discussion and purposefully become the “observer” to get a different view of my behavior or responses . Or I “pretend” I am a true observer and what advise would I give this person ?? .  I guess it is similar to stepping outside of the emotions / reactivity and make some choices from a more logical place ( as the observer) .  I have explained this to him as well…but it takes practice and skill .

The alexithymia is a condition in which the person is not able to express in words what you feel, what your dreams or whatever all figment of imagination are. That is, it is the inability to express emotions in words.

He has trouble with this but as I have experienced , a lot of men seem to. When we 1st attended Retrovaille , we were given a book with lists of words to help you describe an emotion you may be feeling. He used this book for a long time .  Seems a lot of men struggle with this , especially men who have suffered traumatic childhoods ..seems they can become “frozen” emotionally at the age when trauma happened. My husband witnessed a catastrophic assault ( stabbing with physical violence) of his mother at age 3. He never saw her again and believed as a child that she was dead. He discovered differently when he looked for her in his 30’s.  I believe when you are so incredibly wounded in “relationships” , you are very afraid of them. I do not believe he has alexithymia as he does not meet any of the other criteria . I believe he is extremely fearful …amongst other things.

Well the wall is up for a reason. I think you would have to examine how he was prior to BD because life hasn't been normal since and now he is really emotionally unavailable.

Yes , there is a concrete wall . It has ALWAYS been there . It is not a new issue , I was just naïve enough to believe that he will be an “ entirely different and new man “ after MLC.  ( read that silliness somewhere) . I took a chance on restoring my marriage based on the belief that maybe..just maybe he would be able to be different emotionally. He is not . Maybe he is even more detached in some ways ( as you say) because he has deep shame of the “man he became” . Regrdless… he has always been emotionally distant . He did not suddenly develop high emotional IQ or competency just because he had ( or is still) in MLC. I was hoping for some “emotional awakening” and I could reach him …that has not been my experience.

Now there is this crisis. He has no excuse for being emotionally unavailable nor for any of his behavior since BD or what led to BD. That is on him.

It is his responsibility and he is the only one that can change this behaviour . I am not sure he is capable of functioning any differently. I have been told that frequently childhood was of coping or “surviving” are so ingrained and programmed that they appear in adult relationships where they are not required and less than useful. As a child , he is lucky to have survived it. His defence mechanisms , ways of coping, don’t talk, don’t speak , don’t feel are alive and well in this marriage. I am aware that may not change. He is also aware of this . Regardless, there is very little I can do to change him…its rather a decision regarding staying in this kind or marriage , or leaving.

He has to learn to trust you. He doesnt trust you

This is correct. He does not trust me. I know. He has no true ability to trust anyone. When he initially returned , he told the counsellor that I was “not safe”. In my frame of mind at the time ( a cheating husband, a liar, huge money gone) to hear him say that I WAS NOT THE SAFE ONE (!) …well, I can tell you I lost my mind . I am not SAFE , after all YOU have done?.  It was a huge trigger ..and it was frequent. Firetruck that !  I now have zero response to that …I know it has nothing to do with me and feel no need to respond. He has never really been “safe” in the world. Maybe since his mother left. I don’t know. But I am not the reason there is so much fear, mistrust and damage done to him. I am not sure he will ever trust me or even knows how.  He has developed an interest or a hobby ( 1st time in his life) and does spend time in the garage working with a lathe . I go in and watch and make a fuss about what he makes …he chats away about that easily. He brings what he makes to show me with a “little boys face” liking for praise or approval…its shocking how clear that is .

your going to have to find a way around the wall.

Yes. I imagine this is true. When a person refuses to “let you in” , it is rejection.  It is a huge trigger for me …to continually feel rejection. So it’s a sh$tshow .   I wonder why it is that we know we are not responsible for another persons happiness , and yet somehow I am responsible for his feeling “safe”. At some level, I feel resentment, that I am trying to overcome his childhood injuries. It’s a huge wall. How does some random OW manage to scale his walls after decades of my inability to do so?. Or did she really?   I have a feeling she scaled nothing at all...just allowed herself to be used by a man undone. But...who can be sure. Perhaps he found a soft emotional spot to share his inmost self. I will never know. But this "not knowing" is excruciatingly painful.


Great insights for sure.  I know we are all different.  I'm just being honest, mine has operated just like his father before him as a walled off village.  Unfortunately, no I wouldn't be able to settle for this again if he returned.  I too kept asking if everything was OK?  If it was someone else or didn't want to be married any longer?  "No, it's all good." 2 months before he was  caught.  I will never believe the silence again. I am now triggered by the stoic face.  That is deal breaker for me.  If he can't emotionally make himself available or operate in truth, I don't want to be the only one out there giving and not feeling he is trying.  I would hope he learns it's a risk for anyone to open up.  I don't want to feel raw and exposed like that ever again.  Just my p.o.v. for me.   

“settle”.   Yes. That is the word I use as well. I said, that after all that has happened ( affair, betrayal, money) that we are somehow owed far better . But I have settled when I swore that I never would. Ever. That my “new” restored marriage needs to be far better than the original. You simply cannot tell right off the bat. You enter into reconciliation “hoping “ to see change but initially there was so much trauma, rage, questions , family reactions and emotional reactivity and chaos and pain , there was no way to determine what change was or was not there .  It takes awhile to realize that the emotional unavailability persists.  Last week I was married 35 years. I have 5 adult daughters , 4 son-in-laws and 6 grandchildren . I have elderly parents. I have extended family. It is horribly difficult to imagine destroying so many relationships and family because a man is incapable of showing vulnerability or emotional availability. This is not Hollywood and I cannot live in some sort of soap opera dream land… it is not realistic to change so much and cause such hurt . I swing between two thoughts …I “deserve “ more . I should never “settle” for this . And then the opposite where I just cannot imagine changing everyone’s life , severing a family, sharing Christmases, new girlfriends he would drag home etc etc . …because a man won’t “talk” . Really? Grow up Barbiedoll. It is what it is.  ( I have heaps and heaps of forethought , whereas he had ZERO)  Never have I found peace or direction from either scenario.  A special hell exists after affairs …for a very long time. Maybe forever .

He grew up separated from his mother, lived with a violent alcoholic father, and spent many of his teenage years in temporary living situations  that did not enable him to build the emotional connections. Instead he learned to focus his energy into action and work.


YES.  He measures his success as a man in performance .  He receives validation and praise, recognition by “out-preforming” other men. Still . At 62 years old he has a solid reputation that no one can “out-work” him.  Trust me … he is their “trouble-shooter” and they send him all over north America to figure out issues that no one seems to be able to solve. He is sent to jobs sites that are “in trouble” and he fixes them. This is a guy who QUIT his job during his crazy – spiral and they pursued HIM to come back . WUT?   Regardless … with 5 brothers to compete against to “impress “ the never impressed Dad, this started very young . It is how many of his emotional needs are met. NOT thru relationships ..but thru performance.  Recently , my therapist said a very interesting thing. She talked about being “wounded in relationship…you can only find healing in relationship ( or something similar). I guess it is something similar to falling off a horse , you must get back on the horse to conquer the fear etc etc.   If a person is so traumatized by relationships that they cannot risk them ever again , then perhaps this is the result. I often believe this is what I have.  It’s a decision to either make the best of it ..or move on. Some would say that a person like this is more to be pitied than talked about.

I think in the beginning, you accepted him and felt some sense of obligation regarding his troubled past. After all, you married him with the knowledge of his past. All was fine until he betrayed you. I know the pain of that betrayal. Now, the acceptance and the obligation of the past are done. He returned, but the new relationship rules have been changed, not by him-but you.

I married him in my 20’s . I grew to love him so deeply , so profoundly …I cannot express. He has a kindness and gentleness despite his past. He has NEVER raised his voice, has never swore at me, always provided, loves to surprise people , is a people pleaser , was honest (?) , reliable and sooo handsome and personable. People LOVE him everywhere he goes.  He was a solid kind father …did endless things for these girls. He still has a ballet bar in his workshop. He, however, refused to discipline EVER and becomes very agitated if one of them cries or is upset …to this day.  I absolutely had NO idea about childhood trauma. That it could last into adult relationships, how damaged he was emotionally or what he was hiding. I discovered he was sexually assaulted at a 9 year old when he returned to our home. I did not know that he had flashes of memory of his mothers assault …he never ever talked about that. He never said a lot about his childhood and I am certain I never would have been wise enough to know what I would be up against . A lot of the stories he shared where “the funny times” with his brothers.  I have learned more about childhood trauma, emotional development stages that can be altered or missed all together , repressed memory, masks , identity issues and abuse in my 50’s than I EVER knew in my 20’s , I knew NOTHING.  I knew what he wanted me to know.  Perhaps I have changed the rules. I deserve more , I want more …I want him to have “more”.  I believe he may not be capable of more. I don’t truly know.

The root of the issue really lies with you.

Rather speechless about this ( not in a bad way, more curious) …and it is not that I believe all the marital issues are his fault, I am sure that is not true . But “the issue lies in me ?” . Because I changed the expectations or the “rules” by wanting more ?? . All humans want that connection , that intimacy ..I am not unusual I don’t think. I need to think about this more…I am not sure of your meaning exactly.  Sigh.

One thing I have learned over the years, you can't control anyone

I have also learned this. Sometimes I re-learn it everyday.  It is a life changing thing to learn , accept and let go of. It is the truth .

I could not have said it better myself.  I think Readytofixmyselffirst is right on target.

I am not entirely clear on the meaning “ the true issue lies in you “.  I see you understand . I will need more explanation and am very interested in this comment . Thanks .

So we compensate and accept the wall, we try to climb it a few times, and we fall, like Humpty Dumpty so a bit shattered we stop and accept the wall.  What I find most incredulous is that we were then blamed for the wall.

This is said so perfectly in my experience. Wow! I did stop trying to reach him. He was unreachable…and I was unhappy and resentful. I was angry…a lot. I was lonely in ways that a family and a bunch of kids and a good job cannot fulfil. I was broken from failing to connect with him and just “got on with it”. He was a million great things …and then he was not. His crisis , mostly his affair had the ability to destroy all the good.  Yes…I was blamed for the wall . Many many times and it is still where my reactivity lives. If I hear blame …or even “think” I might be blamed , I just cannot emotionally tolerate that. The wall was not something I could scale. I failed at that. But was he really “fine”. He acted like he was perfectly content with his wall. Apparrently that was not the truth as he had an affair to meet some need he had . Some need he refused to allow me to meet. That is the hardest thing to accept about affairs.  Many women try for decades with unavailable men and finally give up and “settle “  ( for a whole list of reasons) and then these very men silently go elsewhere to have needs met that they denied having in the 1st place.  I wish I could express that in a better way … as it has been a huge painful place for me. 

So much more ..but this post is a small book. I do want to comment on the other posts so graciously given . And I will. Just break time for my exhausted heart.  I am so grateful for everyone of you.





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Married April 1985
5 children
Bomb Drop April 2013
Thrown out of house August 2013
Affair discovered November 2013 (i guessed who)
Home December 3 2013
The Journey Of Reconciliation .. is for the brave .

Anger is like a candle in the wind ... it blows out the light of all reason.

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#12: May 18, 2020, 02:19:14 PM
Hello,

Quote
The root of the issue really lies with you. You stood by this man for years while he delved into work and did his thing, then he betrayed you and left, now you take him back for what? Its really like selling your old beat up car, having remorse, and buying it back at a higher price.

In the end, I think its your new boundary. If you can't ask or explain you needs, I can't meet them and you can't complain. It's like going into McDonald's and staring at the menu, someone asks me if I want something and I say, "I'm fine" then two hours later complaining that I'm still hungry and no one has served me.

I want to clarify that when I talk about issue, I am not blaming or trying to place fault at your feet. Instead, the source of your frustration and pain is when he betrayed you, lost the trust, the rules of the marriage changed. He would like to return back to the previous rules and pretend the affair never happened, that he can go on being him, and you will go on being you. That is not going to happen. 

Quote
I took a chance on restoring my marriage based on the belief that maybe..just maybe he would be able to be different emotionally. He is not .

That is the issue. You and your expectations have changed. You accepted him for being emotionally distant prior to the affair. Whose expectations changed?

Quote
This is correct. He does not trust me. I know. He has no true ability to trust anyone. When he initially returned , he told the counsellor that I was “not safe”. In my frame of mind at the time ( a cheating husband, a liar, huge money gone) to hear him say that I WAS NOT THE SAFE ONE (!) …well, I can tell you I lost my mind .

Yes, and without trust there is no relationship. Your response is is why I state you are the one with the issue. He expectation is that things should return back to the state of the past. He didn't trust you in the past, why should her trust you now. You are the one that wants something different. I am not disagreeing with you, in fact to take your marriage to the next level, you need trust. Both of you.

So, to clarify that the issue is you, is that he doesn't want change, nor accept that things have changed between you due to his actions. You are not going to accept the status quo anymore so that puts the ball in your court. When he left, you discovered your power and ability to live without him. Now that he is back, are you going to relinquish this power, this knowledge?

That is the issue you need to address,

((((Ready)))) 

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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#13: May 18, 2020, 07:02:29 PM
This all resonates. On trust and the need for both spouses to have that in order for the marriage to gel again and heal and proceed — I wonder if part of it for the FOO-damaged MLC spouse (or heck, the LBS, because I’m FOO-damaged too) is that there is a void caused by lack of example? This is where I can see the benefit of, say, a Christian community, bible study or recovery group, or, like, men’s accountability group. Or women’s accountability group, for that matter. Some structured scheduled meeting with peers and mentors or at least some basic leadership.

Despite my recent ennui about my own marriage, I’m always rooting for couples to stay together and heal. Some of that has got to be done in the company of others of our same sex. I have noticed that women more easily integrate with a same-sex community, and I guess it’s our nature to do so. But I also see how imperative and beneficial it is, when men find community and brethren with whom they can say their truths and histories and fears to other men, without ...women crying, maybe, and ? somehow stealing the show.

I think societally we have really done a number on men. For decades or maybe even centuries or more. It’s one of the reasons I had hoped to be the mother of a son, and I don’t mean this to sound lofty but — I wanted to use my motherhood and womanhood and heart to ensure that at least one boy in the world would grow up knowing that he was and would always be 100% entitled to express his heart and Self openly and that his expression would be both welcome and respected.

It’s rough when a woman or wife is told she is being too much maternal, or that a certain level of nurturing or acceptance is a turn-off. H loved my love about 75% of the time. Then MLC hit? And suddenly it wasn’t ok for me to love him anymore. Or to accept anything about him. As a wife, woman, and as the mother of a child, I didn’t know how to turn that off. So it’s been weird ever since. I’m grateful my actual teen thrives on being loved and accepted.

She isn’t here and I’m into a glass of cabernet sauvignon, so, I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to get at. Just — I hope that barbiedoll’s h and my own and in fact all the MLCers and all of us as well, will be blessed with fine functional living examples of how to be together safely, kindly, and healthfully, once a wayward turns for home. I agree that loving the EUM (or EUW) feels bad when that person then turns somehow emotionally available to an outsider. But I still think the outsider is sort of just a prop or a “safe” dumping ground, to be left fully behind once a toxic history has been fully processed.

That’s what I hope, anyway.

I have cried several times today at how mean h was to me, and even so, I wonder if there just comes a point where a lot of things are just forgotten, and not necessarily swept under the rug. I keep forgetting. That’s probably the main blessing of an MLCer who lives away for a long time; eventually the people at home just don’t really remember anymore. I still envy those of you whose spouses returned or never left, and/but I also pray for you a lot, because I recognize it’s still just as hard, and maybe moreso.

If my own h were here, ultimately one of the questions would definitely be, why did you be open to someone else? What about me made it unreasonable for you to be open with me?

It would be interesting to have a poll of some kind to reflect how open any of us felt we had been with our spouses. Through these MLC years I have realized that there were a lot of ways that I wasn’t open with h. What I mean is that in my own way, I am emotionally unavailable. I hold back a lot of my self-expression with h, or, I used to. I’ve tried to get the balance right for the past five or so years now, but he’s living in far country and with ow2 to boot. So maybe it is too little or even too much; I’m hopeful it’s not too late.
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#14: May 18, 2020, 07:56:53 PM
The alexithymia is a condition in which the person is not able to express in words what you feel, what your dreams or whatever all figment of imagination are. That is, it is the inability to express emotions in words.

He has trouble with this but as I have experienced , a lot of men seem to. When we 1st attended Retrovaille , we were given a book with lists of words to help you describe an emotion you may be feeling. He used this book for a long time .  Seems a lot of men struggle with this , especially men who have suffered traumatic childhoods ..seems they can become “frozen” emotionally at the age when trauma happened.

All of this goes hand in hand what is known of alexithymia. Men have it more common than women (up to 17% men have it), often times it is with those having childhood with emotional neglect or abuse, or those who undergo traumatic life events some point of their life  (illness, major car crash, BD, anything life changing may trigger it)...it is a natural coping mechanism, not "illness".

You might want to ask him to do this test:
https://www.alexithymia.us/test-alexithymia (lots of ads on results page, but just keep scrolling, the results are sprinkled between the ads).

I did ask my W. Turned out I'm likely actually the more alexithymic of us two, LOL. Our results were close, but she had lower score.So apparently she is just choosing not to tell (stonewalling of sorts I think)...  But like all things in life, this a spectrum.... Having too little or too much of alexithymic traits is not good for you. And yes, it is "treatable" (with time and/or long term therapy)

Alvin.
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« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 08:06:51 PM by AlvinTheMaker »
At time of BD.... Me: 43, XW: 41
Kids: G19,G18,G14,G12,S5
Together - 20½ Years, Married 19 Years

BD ("I don't love you"): Feb 2019, 
BD2 ("I don't want to fix this marriage."), Mar 2020
D filed May 2020, D finalized Dec 2020
I have moved on, and am in new relationship.

Lessons from Stoicism and REBT helped me to exit the chaos zone and become a better person. 

"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. - Epictetus"

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#15: May 18, 2020, 08:29:33 PM
Hi Terra-

Profound thoughts.  I'm sitting here in WOW land on each paragraph you have expressed these deep thoughts and insights on.

I am so many of these.  I truly don't think we purposefully forget to have them back at whatever cost.  Not that is what your were saying.  For me, it seems like we have grown in understanding of ourselves and then are able to extend a portion of ourselves on each given chance we have to engage. It's almost like we became stronger to reach out a hand and extend grace, but it feels like you're trembling and want to run or collapse at the same time in fear.  That's the trauma side for me.  Then I let go too fast and recharge.  During the recharging time, I'm crushed like you mentioned on the level of hurt and disdain that expels out of their mouths or text.  It's quashing and feels so abusive, yet you know they're struggling and sick. 

Someone told me many years ago that when we see someone mad or yelling at us to try to stop in that moment and see if we can see them as the little boy or girl.  That they are scared and don't know what to do. I can recall mine saying at times I don't know what to do? I thought he was trying to blow things off because that's what he always did. In hindsight, I see that was a cry for help. His Dad is a very stoic man always holding his chin or arms crossed while standing in a room. How can kids, especially boys overcome such intimidation?

It seems with this gift of time as we have been taught, we get stronger to even listen if that's all we can do.  What I liked about your writings is how it reflects these different emotions coming up out of both parties in different ways and certainly different days. If you think about it it's like volcanic eruptions to purge the old.  Maybe in little moments we worked through the not so tough parts so we don't stunt our growth? Yet our MLC'rs (most) spew hot lava everywhere. They aren't phased in the least at that moment. We LBS's are scorched beyond recognition and family and friends don't get it.  So you're right, so we keep working to join in groups to edify and get well.

I'm sorry you had tears today. I just shake my head and take pause with you and your sorrow. Sometimes I think the best gift we all could have had if this happened would have been to lose them with some form of grace and dignity as they find themselves. Like setting them free no matter how you're dying inside.  Just those actions could have left greater doors opened.  Alas, that's not MLC is it?  It's a force of cruelty and destruction that surpasses all understanding. 

I am very happy when couples can come through it.  It shows fortitude of everyone involved, along with love, forgiveness, patience, long suffering, regret and remorse. A true lesson that if we can all restore even in a civil way to start, we may have a chance in time to look into their eyes again and see a light verses that dark tunnel.  I pray all come back so much more grateful for the LBS's who take them back. I pray these precious kids souls are restored and healed.  I pray we LBS's are so much wiser for the painful journey and somewhere we will never disconnect and take things for granted as we did.  We didn't cause this right?  We certainly have our parts.  Thanks for making me feel I'm not alone on this journey.  :). I pray for many to have tears of joy!!! God Bless! GGG
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« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 08:37:12 PM by Ggg4life »

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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#16: May 18, 2020, 10:00:54 PM
GGG, I love reading your posts. May God just bless you and yours every moment and always walk before you in all things.

I had an odd moment today during one of the crying periods — the ow in our family story has the name of a common house pet, and I deliberately started playing a game app some time ago to offset the upset that name caused me. It’s silly but it has been a means of coping and processing and also taking my upset out on something specific. So I was playing this afternoon ;D while also grieving and crying, and then also noticing as I have for the past few days that while I feel that ow has “won”, I also feel far removed from any of it. That’s the benefit of h living far away and my staunch blocking of phones and denying any and all random contact right now.

D came into my room after her afternoon class meeting and I laughed through my sniffles, because I am always happy to see her. Even if I just saw her an hour before. She asked what was wrong.

It was the dumbest thing. And like I said, I know that I am sometimes very much emotionally unavailable. I risked telling her.

H moved to home state without me, too early and with someone else. Right before D walked in, I had just realized how upsetting it was that h lives there ahead of and without me. So that if I ever would move there, which has been the expectation of family for over two decades and which D does not want me to do, ever or for anyone, h has made it so that even if I do, for a time or for always I would just seem to him to be a tourist or at least at first just a guest.

I said it: “I can’t even go grocery shopping there with him and enjoy it.”

D understood. I like grocery shopping anywhere. It’s part of how I learn local culture and how I live in it.

I said it further: “He judges how I choose things, and why.”

She knows this too; she knows grocery shopping is just fun, as much as it is also necessity.

She hugged me and I just cried.

And afterward I saw very clearly again — there’s something so healing in just saying it *out loud*, maybe to anyone but especially to someone of the same gender, who has experienced and survived the same lack of understanding, and who wants and needs for certain things to be understood. And who understands it all, or at least understands some key facet of it.

Part of the reason I had not been communicative with h before MLC was that I understood that he did not understand. It’s a paltry excuse. The truth is that my FOO had almost willfully not understood and I was used to that. I felt it was better to withhold from h, at least certain truths, both large and small. Major or minor.

The problem with withholding is that yes, when it is released, it is like a volcano. Somewhere in my writings from years ago I equated it with something like backdraft, the firefighting term, and tonight I wish I could find that, because there was more to it and it was smart. And I know it applies to both men and women, and it’s just a natural and universal thing.

We’ve done men and boys a disservice, for ages, and we’ve done women and girls a disservice too. There’s a popular music group these days who has entreated all of us to “Speak Yourself”, and they do; they are a fine living example. The music is great and I’m grateful my D has learned her voice here at home and that whatever I was trying to impart to her by example has been further exemplified by those music artists. I know that at least millions of listeners are stationing to bring forward a kinder and more emotionally skilled generation of young people.

What I understood instantly this afternoon was that it does no good to hold it in. Not saying it, doesn’t make it go away. Saying it, somehow does. Speaking the heart and hearing or feeling that it is understood and not judged — that’s the key.

I think when we are new to our own self-expression, it’s so important to exercise or test it first among those who are most likely to “get it”. That can be here online in a community like this, but also maybe better among physical bodies and faces who are in somewhat the same boat. Sometimes when I am not active here it’s because I’m offline in real world same-gender groups who are seeing me in person and hearing my voice and responding to my body cues, and to my remembered or very present pain. And they “get it”. When I hear their stories, and see their physical cues, I know they do and I know exactly why.

This isn’t to say that a place like that is better than here. Online communing has a safety and calm that sometimes an in-person group or share does not. But really, sometimes nothing beats an in-person hug, with words or without.

People tell me so much more than I need or want to know. That’s how I know for certain that often the third-party confidante is well and truly discarded after dark content or history has been processed all the way through. I hold more stories than I feel I should, and that’s one of the reasons that I started clinical training, so that maybe at one point in my life I would just be paid to hear all of it and to help. My thought was that money might offset some of the pain of handholding someone through a dark time and then finding myself alone with the whole story. Instead ;) I offer that minor share to qualify what I’ve said: the third party to whom your wayward spouse has disclosed certain things or seemed to share some kind of intimacy that he or she denied to you, is very likely a safe crutch for now, and likely will not stick.

A marital counselor or individual therapist can also serve as a third party, and one of the things to watch for is that the emotionally unavailable spouse is learning to be more open with you outside of sessions. The key goal is that the two of you who are married should be able at some point to manage and navigate and enjoy your marriage, just the two of you, and that your enjoyment of it and each other will hopefully filter down so that your children also will enjoy it.

If that goal is not shared, it’s a tricky path. The therapist itself has to be on board and in agreement. If not — if therapy is going longer than you would like — it’s possible that the two of you have either outgrown the counseling room, or that therapist, or that the two of you honestly have what it takes to manage and navigate and enjoy your marriage, and each other, just the two of you. If that seems so, be a team together and let the therapist know when and why you will be, as a couple, discontinuing the therapy services.

For any man who is reading, or any woman who recognizes herself as a bit emotionally unavailable, just know that there are fine living examples of how to be available and how to be open. Not just to a spouse but to yourself and really, to everyone. Some emotionality needs to be calibrated per the safety or wholesomeness (or opposites) of any audience. I think safe boundaries and safe people both imperative and also the trickiest things to learn. And that could be a reason for the affairs, and why those are often persons who are “affair down”. Because those are maybe just throwaways, sandboxes, practice arenas.

Having been witness for so many random people over the years, I have to say, I think the affair partners and other more random witnesses don’t deserve it either, the using and misleading, mistreatments and discard. But it’s up to them individually to develop their own sense of self worth and to refuse maltreatment. And that part isn’t our problem or concern.

I’ll risk saying here that it can’t hurt to pray on their behalf.

My hope is that if men are emotionally unavailable, that they find themselves among brethren or other male figures who recognize their unspoken or newly spoken truths and can speak to it all sensibly and with sincerity and openness and deep care. I hope that for women, too, and for all our kids.

I don’t find the necessary support in real life offline except in focused Christian groups whose goal is support and recovery. Interested to hear if anyone here has found a support that is not faith-based, as I know plenty of people from all walks who may benefit from a less God-focused approach.
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#17: May 18, 2020, 10:57:19 PM
Thank you, Terra.

I have a smile on my face especially after reading the part about praying for the ow/om.  That was a big challenge for me the first year.  In my divorce care group they actually suggested it to feel the pain of the reality as well as working towards forgiveness. If you all on here could have seen the battle within my heart and the expressions of words splattered on my walls as I moved about to pray through that. I was convicted about my words-lol.

Praying for OW started feeling normal the second year.  What I saw was a broken theif among my family, two actually. God switched by heart to hold my ex accountable in my prayers and thoughts since he was her boss and subordinate.  18 years younger and a child of 3 at the time, my ex preyed on this family. How horrible, but that's his lot now until he repents.  He helped me to see these two were equally broken.  To pray them apart, as there will not be a moments peace while they are in a non-covenant union or marriage. Then I learned to pray for them, including her ex she divorced for mine to become better too.  For the innocent kids and then he had me moving to pray over everyone's families here and their OW/OM. Doing this actually has increased my blessings beyond measure.

I share all this to show the process of doing something that defies all logic.  Now I have peace.  I don't have ex as an idol who was taken.  She can keep him until God sends her onward or vice versa.  I've even prayed if it's not us, give him a good woman and turn him back into a good man with great purpose because of all of this.  I pray her restored to her ex and out of the country. 

When I read the connection stories on here, I am elated for good movement and seeing prayers working. I found my purpose through the pain and that's being a prayer warrior to beat these counterfeits at their game, but without a word to them.  God is in the restoration business. I believe we will see some swift changes among many soon.  He has had enough.  So yes, let's keep our hearts and minds open in love as we figure out how to walk out of this battle field we didn't ask for.  I truly believe we are being reset, purged and cleaned up to become better men and women in life with or without our waywards coming back.  I never thought working through such torment can lead me to a greater peace.

This is the part I fear now like Barbie who is struggling.  She didn't get the full gift of time to breath.  I believe she will and is being used to show many of us the truth and experience of an early return, coupled with enhanced betrayal within the extended family.  She's basically a front runner ahead of us to teach through her pain.  I don't want that, but God has other plans sometimes.  Beauty out of ashes. 

May the other front runners in the other areas teach us as well.  We truly have so much to learn daily.  I'm very grateful for this group here to fumble and safely grow in.  Watcher is our literal representative of the front runner -lol.  See we all have a job to do. Here's to continued success against those who thought they had our families. We have our families hearts and nothing can top that.  No matter what, we are running our own race at our own pace.  We are running to win, whatever that turns out to be.  We'll be ok. God Bless!! GGG
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« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 10:58:43 PM by Ggg4life »

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#18: May 19, 2020, 12:15:21 AM
Terra - being vulnerable is a beautiful thing, and you put it so well into words.  Thanks  :)
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At time of BD.... Me: 43, XW: 41
Kids: G19,G18,G14,G12,S5
Together - 20½ Years, Married 19 Years

BD ("I don't love you"): Feb 2019, 
BD2 ("I don't want to fix this marriage."), Mar 2020
D filed May 2020, D finalized Dec 2020
I have moved on, and am in new relationship.

Lessons from Stoicism and REBT helped me to exit the chaos zone and become a better person. 

"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. - Epictetus"

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#19: May 24, 2020, 09:48:36 PM
Readytofixmyselffirst       Thank you for responding

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I want to clarify that when I talk about issue, I am not blaming or trying to place fault at your feet. Instead, the source of your frustration and pain is when he betrayed you, lost the trust, the rules of the marriage changed. He would like to return back to the previous rules and pretend the affair never happened, that he can go on being him, and you will go on being you. That is not going to happen. 
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I am not reacting with feeling blamed , I really want to understand and I appreciate you.  He would indeed like to return to the previous rules ...and just pretend none of it even happened. That of course is impossible. It will never happen. So I guess it is me that has changed the rules.  I will not and cannot go back to that marriage …...hmmmm, even though his MLC meltdown had nothing to do with the marriage.  Why is that I wonder? 

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That is the issue. You and your expectations have changed. You accepted him for being emotionally distant prior to the affair. Whose expectations changed?
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I did ( after years and years ) finally accept that he was emotionally "different", closed, distant ….I felt no other real option and I was just so tired.
And yes, now I want more . I wanted to rebuild something better . But I can't . Its just not possible. He got " a free one". 

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es, and without trust there is no relationship. Your response is is why I state you are the one with the issue. He expectation is that things should return back to the state of the past. He didn't trust you in the past, why should her trust you now. You are the one that wants something different. I am not disagreeing with you, in fact to take your marriage to the next level, you need trust. Both of you.
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I see what you are saying. I am the one with the issue.  I see that.   He is not capable of trust , I truly believe that.  Sad.   And my trust and faith in him is gone.

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You are not going to accept the status quo anymore so that puts the ball in your court. When he left, you discovered your power and ability to live without him. Now that he is back, are you going to relinquish this power, this knowledge?
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I don't know the answer. Been years since I knew what I was doing or what I wanted.

This is how my life is.  And yes, its another thing thats "not about me".   But living with it?   What a sad mess this world is in . Sorry...feeling glum and defeated.

https://bodymatters.com.au/the-effects-of-stonewalling-on-your-relationship/

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/relations/is-stonewalling-a-form-of-abuse/

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Married April 1985
5 children
Bomb Drop April 2013
Thrown out of house August 2013
Affair discovered November 2013 (i guessed who)
Home December 3 2013
The Journey Of Reconciliation .. is for the brave .

Anger is like a candle in the wind ... it blows out the light of all reason.

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#20: May 25, 2020, 11:27:46 AM
Backing up a minute. You say he doesn't trust you. Has he said these words, that he doesn't trust you? I know he has said that you aren't "safe", but has he said why he feels you aren't "safe".

Not being safe COULD mean he thinks you will yell at him if he does something "wrong" and he doesn't want to be yelled at so he won't say when he does something wrong. If this were true and  you knew this, you might come up with a different way, other than yelling, to deal with when he does something wrong.

Not being safe COULD mean that he knows if he screws up again you might leave, so he can't tell you when he screws up because it might be the thing that makes you leave.

In truth, neither of them would be about YOU being safe, but about him feeling safe enough to be his own screw up self. That if he isn't good enough, he will destroy everything. Better to say nothing, you see?

In this case, it would not be about not trusting YOU. He might not trust himself to be "enough" if he is 100 % him.

AND true it could be the opposite. That he doesn't trust that you will still love him if he is 100% him and ends up doing something you don't like. But it would still be about his belief in himself about being "enough".

How would you handle a vulnerable man who came up to you and said "I screwed up. I went to a casino and lost $100. I need help."

Just a thought.
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« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 11:37:43 AM by OffRoad »
When life gives you lemons, make SALSA!

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#21: May 25, 2020, 01:56:23 PM
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Backing up a minute. You say he doesn't trust you. Has he said these words, that he doesn't trust you? I know he has said that you aren't "safe", but has he said why he feels you aren't "safe".
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He has NOT said those words . He has never said "I do not trust you". If he is asked , he is very slow to answer anything, but he has said " I do not have any particular reason to not trust you . I know I have very little trust in people, but it really is not something I think about a lot".  I have been told by therapist that with his background trust would be difficult for him.  Many "emotional " interactions of any kind and he is out of his comfort zone. I am not "safe" for a host of reasons...but the most significant reason is that he cannot predict my reactions. He is afraid of reactions. He was terrorized ( as were his brothers) of the unpredictability and reactions of their father. He tells a story about being 10 years old and in bed in the middle of the night. His father smashed open the door and dragged all 5 of them outside in the snow because he was not happy with the "firetrucking shovelling job that the lazy bastards did".  In bare feet they shovelled until he was satisfied. He thru the TV out into the driveway and smashed it because " that was the reason they were so firetrucking lazy".   He is afraid of my reactions.... and that is that. Any "discussion or emotional talk" WILL escalate ….so he shuts down and bails.  And that action...that "bailing and shutting down " absolutely is so painful, so crazy making ….it WILL escalate. And it does .

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Not being safe COULD mean he thinks you will yell at him if he does something "wrong" and he doesn't want to be yelled at so he won't say when he does something wrong. If this were true and  you knew this, you might come up with a different way, other than yelling, to deal with when he does something wrong.
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All true. It is true .  Yelling would be "escalation" ....being ignored , shut-down, abandoned , refusal to engage ' trigger me in a way that I could not explain. Severe trigger.  I become enraged . Physically …I am pacing to "flee" in full activation of fight or fight.  Hot flashes, cannot swallow, heart racing.... And yes, it escalates . We have discussed this many many times in therapy. ....we just cannot change it.

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Not being safe COULD mean that he knows if he screws up again you might leave, so he can't tell you when he screws up because it might be the thing that makes you leave.
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Yes. This is true also.  I am aware of this.  He lives in fear . And me ?   I live alone. 

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In truth, neither of them would be about YOU being safe, but about him feeling safe enough to be his own screw up self. That if he isn't good enough, he will destroy everything. Better to say nothing, you see?
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You are correct again. It is NOT about me . It is early childhood programming and reactions and damage etc etc ....still present in an adult relationship.  Sometimes he "gets that " ...sometimes he does not. He becomes defensive  , blaming and recently downright mean.  He is NEVER mean.  You cannot have a close emotional connection , intimacy or even "get to know " a person that behaves this way . You are on your own …because your partner continually bails .   Stonewalling articles clearly ( and accurrately) state the suffering of a person who is stonewalled.  I am really exhausted of living with soooo many things that "are not about me "....but have extreme impact on me.

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He might not trust himself to be "enough" if he is 100 % him.
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He has said this . In therapy …not to me necessarily .

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But it would still be about his belief in himself about being "enough".
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He has very low self-esteem , very low self image. Not that you can tell that ( he performs like a super-hero) . But I just know.  He has never felt "good enough". He is constantly seeking validation and praise and acknowlegment. He tells me that I do not see all the changes in him. He tells me that " I settled for him".

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How would you handle a vulnerable man who came up to you and said "I screwed up. I went to a casino and lost $100. I need help."
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I absolutely know . I would feel compassion. Without question.

Thanks Offroad ..for responding .










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Married April 1985
5 children
Bomb Drop April 2013
Thrown out of house August 2013
Affair discovered November 2013 (i guessed who)
Home December 3 2013
The Journey Of Reconciliation .. is for the brave .

Anger is like a candle in the wind ... it blows out the light of all reason.

 

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