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Discussion 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 .

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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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G
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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"

b
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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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