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Ws doing work, but not talking about it.

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cocoplus5nuts posted 7/11/2019 19:41 PM

We are in year 5 of R. I finally felt this year that we are reconciled. I have no concerns about his behavior.


I stumbled on some info the other day that is making me wonder. I learned a lot more about the work my fch has been doing on himself. All good stuff. He doesn't talk to me about it. I don't understand why he wouldn't considering it's all good. He doesn't open his heart to me like that, or maybe it's his soul. Idk. He's never been much of a talker.

It bothers me because I think we could be so much closer if he would tell me about it. It also bothers me because i concerned that he has fallen back into his conflict avoidance, which was a major problem that led to his resentments, which led to him cheating.

I started a convo with him the other night trying to draw him out without letting on that I know. (The way I found out is questionable.) He said at one point something that indicated he is doing his conflict avoidant stuff. He said he has learned to let go of expectations. To him, that means he doesn't ask for anything. That's no different than before (he's CoD.), except that he's not building resentments in his mind for things I do.

I told him that I don't think that's how it works. You should still ask for things, express your needs and desires. Of course, he has never done that because of his CoD. He said that is why he doesn't talk to me. I always tell him how he's wrong. That's not what I was trying to do. I was trying to let him know that it's ok to ask for things. He's not good at having discussions and expressing different or opposing views. If we disagree, he thinks it's a fight.

I don't know what to do, or think. Does this seem like it could eventually lead to resentments and subsequent cheating? Does he need to tell me what he's working on, what he's learned about himself, and what he's doing differently, or is it ok if he keeps that to himself as long as I see the changes?

Thanksgiving2016 posted 7/11/2019 20:08 PM

This sounds so much like my WH. He sees everything as a criticism. I believe itís because his childhood was filled with nothing but negative feedback actually up until I cut his family off. No praise for anything. I try to be mindful when he does something to make me happy to let him know he is appreciated. And I try to preface disagreements telling him I see your point but I disagree. He seems to understand more now but a lifetime of negative reinforcement is hard to overcome. It helps that I cut the toxic source I havenít found anything about any work he is doing without telling me but itís ironic because I have suspected maybe he does but not real digging. I think my husband is afraid of confronting his demons and especially exposing them to me. Donít get me wrong he is really a much better husband and father but he prefers not to discuss it. I check in vaguely every now and then but I think examining ones demons is fairly personal I donít think it will necessarily lead to cheating again.

Chaos posted 7/11/2019 20:32 PM

What is his normal communication style? That would factor a lot into it.

Is he usually stoic or talkie by nature?

If heís normally more stoic (and you say heís not much of a talker) - Iíd be more concerned about the action, changes and behaviors.

That being said - if talking about it is part of your condition of R - and he is aware of that expectation, he should be keeping you aprised. He can share the basics without delving into the internal horror type struggles he shares with IC.

What specifically are you hoping for or wanting for him to do or share?

cocoplus5nuts posted 7/11/2019 20:36 PM

Yes! He takes any disagreement as a criticism or personal attack.

My fch's behavior definitely comes from his childhood. He was the perfect child because he was afraid of his father. He actually admitted the other day that his father was very controlling. That was the first time he had ever said anything negative about his parents or his childhood. His dad isn't like that now.

He was not allowed to express any negative feelings. He was not allowed to express differing opinions from his dad. His dad decided it, said ot, and everyone else had to go along. There was no discussion.

cocoplus5nuts posted 7/11/2019 20:49 PM

Chaos, he is not a talker at all. I don't know that he's stoic. He does not talk about his thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, goals, anything. I don't think he even knows what his feelings are. The only one he ever expresses is anger.

What I want is for him to tell me what he has learned about himself. He gets defensive easily. Why? What is he doing to change that? He has realized he has a choice of how he reacts to others. Is he making better choices?

He is conflict avoidant. What is he doing to address issues that might lead to conflict in a healthy, constructive way?

Oh, he's passive aggressive, too. Learned that one from his mom. That goes back to conflict avoidance, I think.

He had seemed to change. But, after reading what I read, I'm wondering if he really did. Apparently, when he learned to not have expectations, he also decided not to say anything about what he wants or needs or when something bothers him. That's his typical conflict avoidant, CoD behavior.

He's made changes, but I think he needs to go further. I don't know how to talk to him about going further without him getting defensive. We need MC, but I haven't found one who can accommodate his hours.

Tallgirl posted 7/11/2019 20:57 PM

Coco, this is tough...

My husband and I detached partially because we were conflict avoiders... generally he is the avoider and I am the pursuer. Sometimes we would both avoid.

What we canít do. Seldom do, is share our core feelings. We arenít vulnerable. When we do manage to be vulnerable we can talk. And it is real. But it has been fleeting.

Maybe you can Say that you feel sad when you miss opportunities to be there for him and learn with him. Youíd like to learn together.

I wouldnít push him. It is his personal challenge and growth, he can say ďno thanksĒ. If you are consistent maybe he will say yes. At least sometimes.

I wonder if he still has shame. Such a powerful emotion.

Our MC is trying to get us to talk without going into our bad habits. It is so hard. Even before his cheating this was bad. Now it is 1000 times harder. I kinda want to go for the kill often. Anger is a bitch.

I wish I had solid advice and experience to share. Ignore this if this feels wrong to you. I am by no means expert. I just know what hasnít worked.

Big hugs Coco. I am sure this is conquerable, you just need the right approach

secondtime posted 7/11/2019 22:49 PM

So. After DDay2, my husband sharing about "his work" was a new requirement for staying together.
I don't expect my DH's insights to be big insights.

I do try to give DH his space to work his recovery. He's got his sponsor and group to share with and help him work through things. And eventually, his therapist, too. He needs to work through these things on his own.

Two years after DDay 1, I read "The Seven Levels of intimacy" by Matthew Kelly. I found it to be very useful, particularly since I was brought up in a dysfunctional home. Avoiding emotional intimacy at all costs is how dad and I survived when my likely borderline mom was in a bad spot.

I know there are exercises and what not in the book. You all may find it useful.

gmc94 posted 7/11/2019 23:01 PM

Wow. Sounds exactly like my WH.
I agree about expressing wants/desires. Maybe I'm just dense, but I cannot see how not expressing wants/desires will not eventually lead to resentment. And those resentments are not part of a healthy M.

Everyone's R (or I suppose in my case - not R) is different. But this inability to share is a HUGE reason why WH is moving out. I was OK with that before dday, but now that I know what he's capable of, that's just no longer workable for me.

This is an interesting post bc my IC recently asked if there was any chance I could stay in the M if WH is never able to share what's going on with him - to express his emotions and dreams, etc. This was also something raised in my last round of therapy 10+ yrs ago (w/in a week or so of WH and POSOW 1st sex). At that juncture (of cluelessness), I was OK with the compromise, it was not important enough to me to leave the M. But, after dday, that compromise is no longer tolerable to me. It's not the 1st time my current IC asked this since dday, but it was the first time I didn't feel anxious or defensive or some other emotion about it - I felt very calm and assured. I answered that I could not stay in the M under those circumstances as I cannot see how trust could ever be established w/o that ability to communicate - w/o transparency AND vulnerability, both of which are often shown verbally - saying "I feel angry" is a heckuva lot more healthy than slamming a door or giving that awful angry vibe (or having an A).... saying "I need you to X" is far more healthy than telling himself that X isn't really important and he can do without it and then having that pang of "shit"or self pity or some other negative feelings when he thinks about not having X.

Maybe it's asking too much, but I feel OK with that and OK leaving the M bc of it. Maybe its bc my WH was always pretty good in the husband dept during the M and during the EA and during the PA (always did romantic stuff, was great around the house, etc.) , so those actions post dday don't tell me a thing. But if I think beyond that, I realize I really don't want to be in any M with someone who doesn't feel they are worthy of asking for/getting what they want or need. IMO, part of loving someone is helping them and supporting them and providing (so long as not in a COD way) what they want/need. Otherwise, there is unequal footing, and there's already plenty of risk on that front in the aftermath of an A. If WH wants a back rub, I expect him to ask for it (I certainly would) and most of the time i would gladly give him one, as I feel good doing good things that make him feel good. But if he doesn't ask, how the heck am I supposed to know? And what are the odds that the next day, when his back hurts, his thoughts turn unhealthy? (eg kicking himself for not asking or wondering why didn't GMC offer me a back rub? I TOLD her my back hurt and she didn't even offer to help). And then what happens to those unhealthy thoughts?

You say he's doing good stuff, and that sounds wonderful, but the conflict avoidance would worry me. A close family member is a psychologist and knows my whole sordid situation. Around the 1 year mark, he told me that unless WH is able to overcome the conflict avoidance, the chances for reconciliation are low and for relapse are high... that it's almost the first thing that needs to be addressed. It's just one opinion (and I disagree with plenty of this family member's opinions), but it made a TON of sense to me in that if they are avoiding conflict, how do they take the hard look and resolve the conflicts w/in themselves? Again, maybe I'm just too dense to understand, or am projecting my own shit here, but at 5 years out, when you say he's doing good work, seems to me that if this bothers you, you and he should be able to address it. If you are committed and in it for the long haul, why not? Isn't it important in ANY marriage (remember - the ones that don't include cheating?) to recognize and address the changing wants and needs of both partners?

secondtime posted 7/11/2019 23:05 PM

At this point, I'm interested in speaking my truth.

If my husband feels defensive because I say "I don't feel safe when you do a and b.." that's his to own.

I don't do it maliciously. I don't say these things to manipulate him. I don't even ask how he's going to fix it.

[This message edited by secondtime at 11:07 PM, July 11th (Thursday)]

ChamomileTea posted 7/11/2019 23:21 PM

He's made changes, but I think he needs to go further. I don't know how to talk to him about going further without him getting defensive.

Have you read John Gottman's essay on The Four Horseman? You can find it pretty readily online. Per Gottman, "the four horseman" are Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling, and in his research, he's found that these communication breakdowns are the most problematic, often leading to divorce when they're unresolved.

You might try printing it out and seeing if you can get some discussion going on it, but I'll be honest with you... I'm fighting that same battle more often than I'd like. Defensiveness is kind of the polar opposite of vulnerability, so it's tied into whatever internal brokenness they're protecting.

Justgetitoverwith posted 7/12/2019 05:44 AM

Coco, mine is exactly like this, and no matter what he says about needing and trying to be more emotionally open, he just isn't. He'll read something his IC suggested (who he unfortunately won't be able to see until next year now), and if I've been driven to rant at him for his lack of effort, he'll read SI or a few articles and tell me about them. But he hasn't mentioned anything for months, and admitted recently that he doesn't properly read my messages to him, he definitely doesn't take on board what I discuss.

At his first session with his current IC, he did a questionnaire which highlighted problem areas in emotional deprivation, emotional inhibition, insufficient control/discipline, and admiration/recognition. Looking these 'schema' up online, you can get further info on working to improve them. Typically, my WS hasn't bothered, but yours might find it useful if he hasn't looked into these already.

I'm with you though. I find the silence from him about this stuff disturbing. I only know what he's lied about by info from others, and I'm not going to find out anything from anyone while he's away. Not being open about the 'work' he should have done strongly suggests he's just avoiding things. And if anything else happens(because of the same build up of resentment) he's hardly likely to admit yo it.

I'll follow your thread with interest, hopefully someone has some practical advice. Thanks to secondtime for the book recommendation.

iris2536 posted 7/12/2019 06:35 AM

I realize you're probably looking for advice from more seasoned members but I felt like maybe my situation can provide some insight.

My WH is not the silent type (more of a talker) but he is very much the conflict-avoidant type. He would avoid voicing his opinion if it challenged mine and he wouldn't ask for things if he wasn't like 80% sure I would not only say yes but be happy to do them (gmc's back rub example is really good). WH has a giving nature and most of the times he was happy doing what I wanted, but there were a few times when he was really not and instead of talking to me about it he just built up resentment.

On and around Dday1 WH was very vocal about how it was all my fault that he had to get a "friend" because I never care about what he wants, he's tired of being the only one compromising for the M, that he felt he couldn't be himself with me, etc etc. His IC (who was our MC for a couple of sessions before we decided to just do IC for now) was pretty good at identifying his lack of assertiveness as one of the main issues (along with a lack of self-worth, I think the two issues go hand in hand). His therapist gave us a few examples/exercises and WH is pretty excited and has come a long way since DDay2 5 months ago. In my case, I wouldn't even consider R if this weren't being addressed.

Idk if conflict-avoidance was a huge part of your fWH's A, but I think you're right that it doesn't make for a very intimate M. I think MC might help.

Notmine posted 7/12/2019 08:41 AM

it doesn't make for a very intimate M. I think MC might help.

^^^^^ this^^^^^

MC saved our marriage.

JBWD posted 7/12/2019 09:35 AM

saying "I need you to X" is far more healthy than telling himself that X isn't really important and he can do without it

If what is described above is how your WH thinks (which I donít know if it is but seems a potential method) then I agree this will lead to resentment. I did a lot of ďmartyringĒ throughout my M that was entirely unnecessary and self-gratifying (in a negative way- ďWhat a good husband I am, working myself stupid to provide for BWĒ when what I was providing wasnít at all what she needed from me.)

I think the key difference to parse is the degree of expectation that weíre talking about: If itís unhealthy expectations that heís letting go of (That you devote yourself only to him likely a big one for a WH) then I think thatís ok. If however itís an expectation of legitimate fulfillment, Iíd say that requires some work- And I think itís the type of dialogue a MC could pretty quickly foster effectively for someone whoís been in IC for a bit.

cocoplus5nuts posted 7/12/2019 10:20 AM

Thanks, everyone.

The conflict avoidance was a part of his A. He built up resentments toward me over things I wasn't doing for him that I had no idea he wanted because he never told me. He always said everything was fine.

I have tried to give him space to work his own recovery. I don't need him to tell me all the gory details. It would be nice, though, if he came him and said, "I discovered this about myself. Here is what I'm going to try to do about it. "

Secondtime, he was not being defensive about A stuff. If he had done that, I would've gone off on him. He got defensive when I said that I didn't think letting go of expectations worked the way he thought it did.

I think they are healthy needs and wants, like helping with a project. He does not expect me to dote on him. (That would never happen.) To give a trivial example, him wanting me to do the laundry his way or on his time. He can certainly express that to me and ask if I will accommodate. But, he needs to let go of the expectation that I should do it his way and build up resentments that I don't. Instead, he doesn't say anything. He says he has let go of the expectation and resentment. How do I know that if he doesn't talk to me?

Thanks for book recs. I will look into them. I like Gottman. I share stuff from his website with my fch. We have one of his books. The emotional intamacy one sounds very applicable. That's what I want.

GMC and justgetoverit, sounds like our CHes are very similar. I do feel that, if he won't talk to me about the little stuff, he's certainly not going to tell me if he does build up another resentment.

JBWD, that's how my fch is with his "giving". I put it in quotes because it's not really giving. He does it for selfish reasons. Then, he gets hurt if it's not appreciated the way he wants it to be.

cocoplus5nuts posted 7/12/2019 10:50 AM

Forgot to mention that the trying to find a MC who can accommodate fch's work schedule. He is only available on weekends.

Just ordered The 7 Levels of Intamacy and am going to pull out my Gottman book. The four horsemen are probably in that.

I'm afraid that I do a lot of 1 and 2 and my fch does 3 and 4,although he does do 2 sometimes.

sisoon posted 7/12/2019 11:56 AM

Hmmm...15 responses, 14 by women, 1 by a man. Now 16 responses, 2 by men.... Yikes!

There's a book called I Don't Want to Talk About It. You might want to check it out.

I've had it almost within reach of my usual seat for months now.... Maybe more than a year. It's right by the phone. (Yes, we still have a land line.)


Not having expectations may be a good step out of co-d, but your H really needs to decide to ask for what he wants. That's the next step, IMO.

[This message edited by sisoon at 11:57 AM, July 12th (Friday)]

Unhinged posted 7/12/2019 11:59 AM

I've always had a tendency to avoid conflict and build walls, as well, and for probably many of the same reasons as your WH (foo shit). Having strong tendencies to avoid conflict makes reconciliation extremely difficult. It doesn't seem to matter, either, who has such tendencies (men, women, BS, WS, whatever). Now, I may know very little about psychology, but I do know that people who tend to avoid conflict avoid the conflicts within themselves first and foremost. What's worse is that most of us with tendencies to avoid conflict have buried those internal conflicts so deeply and for so long that unlearning those untruths about ourselves is extremely hard--especially when we'd just as soon avoid that shit as much as possible.

It's beyond a catch-22.

From what you've written, it doesn't sound as if your WH is even close to resolving the conflicts he has with himself. He doesn't want to talk about it which leaves you guessing at his work, or even if he's really doing it.

It seems he still has a long, long way to go.

ChamomileTea posted 7/12/2019 12:43 PM

There's a book called I Don't Want to Talk About It. You might want to check it out.

I've had it almost within reach of my usual seat for months now.... Maybe more than a year.

That book changed my entire outlook on male/female relations. Terrence Real's work on "covert male depression" is so insightful. He give us an inside look into the unwritten messaging men receive about emotional processing from boyhood on, and how wounding it is to their relational skills. The only thing I could have wished for in his research is that he tie in gender differences in brain chemistry. I haven't found one-stop shopping for that yet.

StillLivin posted 7/12/2019 13:28 PM

It sounds like your husband just isn't much of a talker. It's who he is. He's doing the work, and that is great. You're situations is one of the good ones for reconciliation. So, the question remains, are you ok with that? Pre A were you ok with him not being a talker. In relationship without infidelity, there is some level of accepting a person for their traits/faults. Is this something minor enough that you can live with it? Infidelity sometimes makes us focus on that and apply everything through that filter. My X was a slob. I can actually live with that so long as any man I live with makes enough money to hire a cleaning service. He was a liar, I can't live with that. I'm impatient, he could live with that. I expected him to keep his word and not lie, he couldn't live with that. There is some give and take. Only you can answer what you are willing to live with. However, for me, this wouldn't be the dealbreaker. But some women couldn't live with a slob even if he had a cleaning service coming in once a week.
Infidelity sometimes changes what we're willing to put up with, so if it's a dealbreaker, there is no shame in that. However, the mere fact that he is genuinely remorseful is rare. This seems something that MC might be able to help with.

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