Roles Reversed

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    • #56318
      charliebrown
      Participant

      I’m an older male just diagnosed with ADHD. It’s been a real eye opener, mostly in how I’ve treated my spouse of many years. I devasted her life. She’s completely numb. She got to the point of hating me and resenting everything about me. This was a real kick in the gut to learn.

      But now we have the diagnosis and we have just started counseling. She says she wants to fix things and understands ADHD. She clearly wants to try and that’s great.

      But… She is so broken. We have talked a great deal and she says she needs space and time, and she’s going to need lots of it. I don’t blame her and I understand.

      But now the tables have ironically turned. My eyes are open to what I’ve done over the past years and now I yearn for my wife back. But now she is cold and distant. We’ve talked about this and she doesn’t like that she feels that way, but healing the deep scars is a long process.

      Now I feel alone and unloved, with a wife who shows no affection and seems distant, and I don’t feel like part her life. I have ADHD so my mind spins and spins and spins about this and I end up with great anxiety. I am trying so hard to make corrections in my behaviors and manage my ADHD as best I can. I am hiding all my anxiety and stress from her because she needs to see I’m working things out, which I am. But it is absolutely killing me not to see any kind of progress from her.

      We just started therapy. Time between weekly visits is an eternity. We are still so early in the process I feel like they have done nothing for us yet.

      I don’t know how to manage this. A week feels like a year, progress seems so slow. I need to know she’s healing. I need to know she’s moving back to me, even if it’s slowly. I desperately need signs that I can see even with my ADHD deficiencies. I’m going crazy with stress and anxiety over this. My brain keeps running and coming up with all kinds of unpleasant scenarios and I can’t beat them down. I’m not eating or sleeping. I just want my spouse back… which is all she wanted for years, adding to my guilt.

    • #56400
      preppychicks2004
      Participant

      Charlie,

      First, may I say that I’m impressed by your level of commitment to helping your wife and saving your marriage. Owning one’s diagnosis and managing it to the best of your ability is a huge first step. I admire your courage for taking responsibility for your ADHD. Keep up the good work and stay committed to it. You owe that to yourself and those you love. Taking a pill is only part of the picture. It’s not a one stop solution.

      I am the wife of an ADHDer, so I understand how your wife feels. It can be a very dark place. You cannot change the past, so holding on to old guilt solves nothing and keeps you stuck. Let it go. Focusing on it will only send you further into a tailspin. Right now in your relationship, it’s about her, not you. Put your fears aside and be there for her in whatever way she needs you to be. She needs to know that you are capable of being the man that she married, and I’m sure you can do it. She needs to feel your strength, see it, and start to trust you and herself again. We get lost in a world of anger and resentment and it is difficult to let go of, because it has become a way of life, of survival. I pulled myself out, and she can too. We all need to know that our feelings are valid, that we are loved and appreciated. Self care is huge for her right now. Just keep loving her, the way that SHE needs to be loved. Listen, and ask for nothing in return as she heals. She will open up when she’s ready.

      Instead of focusing on all of the things that you “think” are going wrong, focus on all of the things that are going right. Focus on the solutions and not the problem. IT might just open your eyes to some creative alternatives for building that bond again. Build on the positives and keep moving forward.

      If you find yourself trapped in negative thoughts, come up with a tool to change them. Get up and walk around your desk. Stand up straight and tall and breathe deeply for 10 seconds. You have the power to change your thoughts in a split second, it just takes committed and sustained effort. Don’t give up. You can do it!

      Best of luck!

      • #56413
        charliebrown
        Participant

        Jeepers, preppychicks2004, you sound exactly like my wife. She has said all the same things in your second paragraph pretty much verbatim. I wish you could talk to her instead of me!

        Logically all this makes sense and I know it’s true. We have only had one counseling session after all! But logic and emotion are difficult to reconcile. I’m working on it. I feel extremely selfish (and thus ashamed) because I want to be given even the tiniest bit of affection, and it is incredibly painful to think that getting that may take months. Feelings, ugh.

        Working on it. Working so hard.

    • #56458
      preppychicks2004
      Participant

      I became a Life Coach after going through this myself years ago. I healed, and now I help others do the same. Stay positive and strong. You got this!

    • #56658
      Penny Williams
      Keymaster

      Your story is all too common. The good news is that you’re both still in it, and you’re both committed to working on it. That’s huge. You have to have faith in the process, stay committed, and accept that it will take time.

      Here are some strategies you might try as well:

      10 Ways to Save Your Relationship

      Penny
      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #56663
      charliebrown
      Participant

      Yeah, we’re working on it and I do take solace in that. But we talked again last night and it seems like she’s got a nearly unattainable distance to go. Like in a year she might just be able to unwrap 10%. Honestly, my biggest problem right now is that I don’t know how to wait what feels like could be years for any kind of intimate relationship to return. I feel very guilty about not wanting to be without intimacy for that long, but I have to be honest with myself also. She says she’s making progress, but even she agrees that it’s very slow. Last night she said at least she could “bear to look at me” now. Whoa.

      I’ve now started on meds which are working to keep my brain from going a million miles an hour and ending up in some dark places of hopelessness. But still. I’m hoping the therapist, who we have an appointment with today, can maybe help give her some strategies to help her move along better, for her own sake. Or strategies for me to learn how to deal with not having a wife until years from now.

      Maybe the healing will pick up in a month or so and we’ll really feel like we’re making progress. I don’t know, I’ve never done this before! I personally need that feeling, even if I know there’s still a long way to go. Progress is everything.

    • #56669
      preppychicks2004
      Participant

      Charlie,

      Can you focus on helping your wife heal, rather than thinking about sex? Maybe the intimacy can return even faster, if you make her the priority and not your sex drive.

      You may feel as though you may not have a wife until years from now, but that’s not a fact, it’s an assumption. What is a fact, is that she has been through some very difficult times with you, and she’s still there doing her best. You want her to step up and be there for you! Have you been there for her all these years? It is a two way street. She is broken in ways you cannot understand and all you can think about is sex? I get it, that’s how you need to feel love, and of course the dopamine rush that ADDers crave. How does she need to feel loved by you? Ask her. For women, it’s more about other small acts of kindness that show us that we are loved. Ask her what she needs. IF you continue to mention sex right now, she will feel like nothing more than a piece of meat, that sex is all you want. Value and appreciate her for the wonderful woman that she is. It takes a strong and devoted woman to survive this kind of relationship. You have been her focus until now. It’s your turn to step up, make her YOUR focus and give her what she needs. She can’t pour from an empty cup, and right now, she’s empty.

      Keep focusing on your own healing and managing your ADD correctly. It took years to get where you are, and it can’t be rebuilt in a week. Exercising is one of the best ways to manage your ADD. At least 30 minutes 5 days a week. The more you do, the better! Meditation is another good thing. Even 10 minutes is beneficial. Try the Calm app. Build on your own strengths right now. Show her that you are committed and that you can be trusted to take responsibility for your ADD and your responsibilities as a partner and all that it entails. Sorry, but you need to prove it to her and to yourself.

      Remember, we all have control of our thoughts. If you need to create new thoughts and patterns, then now is a good time to start. I also hope that you are seeing a therapist with ADHD relationship experience. IT is crucial that they understand this dynamic.
      Best of luck.

      • #56670
        charliebrown
        Participant

        Actually, there’s a bit of miscommunication here. When I say “intimacy” I don’t mean sex. I mean intimate at the basic level of holding hands, for example. Touch of any kind is intimate. I understand sex is far down the road.

        Yes, our therapist specializes in ADHD marriage counseling.

    • #58606
      gentlygenli
      Participant

      You can’t heal her. What you can do is be who you should have been all along, consistently, so that her trust and faith in you is restored. She can’t feel warm towards someone she doesn’t trust. You have to fix the everyday minutiae. That’s where marriages are made and broken.

      She needs to believe she isn’t being used for your gratification. Any touches for now should be only for her with no strings attached. Would she like a foot massage after a hard day? Back massage? Just a shoulder pat when she expresses frustration (but not if it’s about you!!!).

      Give for now. She’s had too much taken. Do for her what she values and appreciates.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by gentlygenli.
    • #58844
      keypher
      Participant

      Congratulations on your awareness and for being empathetic to her hurt and disappointment. It’ll get better but it’ll be earned each day until the past is a faded memory. It’s hard for one with ADHD to even keep track of active healing necessary so use a “Marriage Meeting” on a regularly scheduled day that is the best stress-free day for both of you. Maybe Sunday? Maybe a certain weeknight that you can both steal away with distractions cleared. “Marriage Meetings” is when you use eye to eye & hand in hand contact and a NOTEBOOK (since you have to keep track!) and use the techniques shared in this book https://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Meetings-Lasting-Love-Relationship/dp/1608682234

      Use an independent bookstore if you don’t like Amazon – I have no affiliation with the book or bookstore.

      Any couple can benefit from this book but particularly if one has ADHD because it starts to repair the damage immediately through a process starting with appreciation and intentionally stepping you both through becoming active partners again. The NOTEBOOK you keep will show you both the progress you will make.

      Wishing you happiness and love (again).

    • #58845
      michael.maitland
      Participant

      Wow. This is the first time I have read something like this. Believe it or not it is gratifying that I am not the only one experiencing this – to have someone who has been in your life for almost a quarter century to actually recoil at the slightest touch. To be so bitter, resentful, angry. No doubt we all feel a great sense of guilt but is a sense of guilt about something none us knew anything about. As for the name calling, heck my wife calls me everything in the book, most recently – a real piece of work – in front of my teenage daughter! Sure, I am trying to walk a mile in her shoes. And I am trying to give her the space she needs. But we all need human contact. Like everything else in life, you have to look forward not backwards

    • #58875
      lp
      Participant

      I have been married to a person with adhd for over 20 years and he was just recently officially diagnosed. We have wasted so many years struggling with our marriage. I have felt so lonely sometimes that it was hard to believe that I had a husband. I have known for many years that he has ADHD but he was incredibly resistant to any diagnosis. I think I stayed in my marriage for our children. He is now on meds but refuses to get any coaching to help with life skills. He has lost several jobs which has caused tremendous stress for me. His relationship with our kids is up and down. I am willing to try to forgive him for all the hurt he caused denying this issue and work to repair our marriage but he has got to be 100% committed. You def need to give your wife lots of time and space but also show you can be trusted. Do what you say, follow through on commitments, go on dates together, remember to pick up milk, a birthday, or her favorite dessert. Do nice things for your wife and do not expect or want anything in return. Keep doing this, weeks, months, years. Let her know that she can trust you again. My biggest blow was that I questioned how or why I stayed on a marriage when I was being treated so poorly, what was wrong with ME? Why did I accept this treatment. This is what I think about when I am alone, no answers yet. Your wife may be struggling with this too.

    • #58878
      nlbhunter
      Participant

      Your wife may have Depression as part of her diagnosis and not because of you. All or Nothing thinking that if “you” have one slight issue reflecting ADHD that the whole is bad. Most of the ADHD persons I have met have very very creative aspects and are good natured at heart. It might be better to be with someone that has these attributes than to be with a controlling you know what. She may also be overgeneralizing everything that is happening to be “your fault” due to the ADHD and then allowing her to project her inadequacies in communication onto you. You are letting her do this and then are the victim and saying “everything is my fault because she is leaving emotionally and physically”. It may not be all your fault. Some of it might be her personality and control issues too. I am not sure which is better to have Depressive disorder, where no matter who you meet or what you do you find the negative in it, or ADHD where you can actually focus intensely on something and become very skilled at it, despite not being able to sustain attention to detail in other areas. If you were a non abusive, non drug abusing and kind respectable individual that tries to give and love in the relationship, then she will have to be given space to realize what she will be missing!
      As far as the executive function issues, how bout taking on one task at a time toward change – drawing up a general schedule to start and following that. Then make a list of the areas that you would like to work on and make the steps to working on these areas specific, but give yourself time to deal with and master one area at a time. When one has ADHD they do not know where to start, they are overwhelmed with all of it. To me, ADHD is that the individual is receiving more sensory inputs than the next dullard, and as a result, have difficulty making decisions. But if you make a list of what decisions are priorities and set a path to how to do that, you might become successful as things become more automatic.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by nlbhunter.
    • #58880

      Hi Charlie –
      Have you tried exercising? Maybe a 30 minute walk or run maybe with a little uphill for a good workout ? It will help your racing thoughts and it might help you feel better about yourself. Also maybe trying to eat better. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD and we found out his blood type and we researched the best foods for him to eat. I think if you concentrate on yourself fill your time with positive things and changing your diet and stay on your meds you will feel better and your wife will like what she sees. You can’t depend on her coming back to you. You have to be ok without her. And if she comes back I hope you keep your promises you make to her and be her prince that she needs.
      God Bless you!

    • #58889
      catpaw7002
      Participant

      Dear Charlie Brown,
      It takes courage to face your part of estrangement in a relationship. Good for you. Realize that your intense desire to “have your wife back” is natural and is natures way of telling you that you have work to do. If you are not familiar with the movie Fireproof or the book mentioned in it – the Love Dare, I highly recommend both. You do not have to be religious to gain insight from the works into the mysteries of the human heart! Now is not a time for feeling and then acting. It is time to lead your heart–regardless of what you are feeling. Good luck my friend. You can do what it takes.

    • #58893
      preppychicks2004
      Participant

      LP, forgive yourself. We can forgive others far more easily than we can forgive ourselves. I beat myself up over accepting this behavior as well. We get so lost in these relationships and wonder where the hell the “real” us disappeared to. We get lost in life, everyday responsibilities as a wife, a mother, a sister, a professional, whatever! We get so wrapped up in doing, and forget that “being” is crucial to our existence. Forgive yourself, and know that you only had the best intentions for yourself and your family. You can’t change what happened, but you can learn from it and move forward with greater strength, knowledge and understanding. Celebrate your strength and fortitude. You have endured what so many could not. Fill your heart and soul with that inner strength and understanding. Own your power and use it, to heal yourself and be all that you were meant to be in this world. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness and understanding!

    • #58895
      luly43221
      Participant

      Hello
      Keep trying make things work! Don’t give up on your marriage. Give your wife time to heal. These web articles help me and my husband personally. Maybe can help you both understand each other. Jw.org/en/bible-teachings/family/couples-parents
      Best wishes,
      Lauren

    • #58914
      gthogan
      Participant

      This reply is all about you, chief. Hang in there.

      I agree with another poster – try to do things to get out of your own head as best you can. This is a stressful situation, so that’s easier said. Exercising is great advice, but it may also help to try meditation or breathing exercises throughout the day, especially when you start catastrophizing.

      I totally understand you miss the physical intimacy of your relationship, anyone would. I bet she does too. If you’re not pressuring her for it and both of you are focusing on being a friend to each other again, it may come back sooner than you think. You’re hurt and she’s hurt, so if you did have sex right now, it might not be all that great or could end in a fight.

      It sounds like you have compassion for her, but be kind to yourself, too. You have a lot of remorse over the past, which is healthy, but try to forgive yourself and learn from it. You owe it to your future self. Trying to work through things in your relationship without dealing with your own stuff is like mixing ice cream and manure. It won’t hurt the manure, but it’s going to ruin the ice cream. Do you have other people in your life who build you up or bring out your best? See if they’re available for coffee or something like that. Maybe focus on one action per day that lifts your self-esteem. Beating yourself up does no good and contributes to a crappy atmosphere in your home. Imagine: instead of coming home to you moping, your wife comes home to a warm, genuine smile and a “hi, how was your day?” Day after day after day. I’d think that would have a positive effect on both of you. Since you have ADHD, you’ve likely felt bad about yourself for different things all your life, and you’re probably pretty good at it. Try to stop that negative talk.

      Her saying she needs time makes sense, but personally speaking, I always think someone saying that they need space is kind of nebulous. If you’re unsure about how to give her what she needs, I would consider asking her what giving her space looks like in a practical way. That could be a good topic in your marriage counseling as it’s usually a place to unpack things with the help of an unbiased observer.

      Other than that, I would clean, pick up after yourself, do laundry, get up a little earlier and make the coffee, basically be a reliable partner on a day-to-day basis.

      This is a crappy situation, but you’re taking action. Considering the fact that had you done nothing that your marriage would have ended, the way I see it is that you’re playing with house money as that’s still the worst thing that could happen. If things improve, awesome. If they don’t, you’re going to be okay and so will she. Really. I’m not trying to be flippant, just honest.

      I would try to go boldly into this. The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.

    • #58949
      morlov
      Participant

      Charlie –
      There are some resources that can help you and your wife understand this better, as well as help you choose the right tactics to start to heal ASAP. I’ve written two books on the topic – the first, The ADHD Effect on Marriage may be the most immediately relevant. In addition, there is a free treatment ebook on my site that can provide you with specifics about how to optimize your treatment to best manage your ADHD symptoms. Go to http://www.ADHDmarriage.com for more details.

      Your wife is worn out, but don’t let that get you down. Now she is waiting to see what progress you make. It’s one thing to be thinking about ADHD – another to be actively trying to manage it. It is in making your behaviors more consistent where you will find the greatest gain with your wife. Most commonly, ADHD partners need to work on these things: managing any explosive anger they may have; following through on tasks that are promised; not over-promising; and paying enough high-quality attention to a partner (affection).

      Two great first steps are to optimize your treatment. This means doing multiple treatment approaches at once in three different ‘legs’ of treatment – i.e. treatments that are physiological and change your brain chemistry, such as exercise, a better sleep routine, and medication (that’s Leg 1). Leg 2 treatments include behavioral shifts – for example, using a calendar or reminders; planning in advance for transition times between tasks; developing a Personal KanBan organizational system. The third leg of treatment is around changing how you interact with your partner. So, for example, you might set up weekly chore meetings; you might develop verbal cues to alert her when you lose track of a conversation; you might learn techniques for ‘good fights’ which help the two of you remain constructive even when you disagree.

      You may worry about your wife’s state of mine, but you don’t have much control over it. However, you DO have control over your own actions. So focus on getting the ADHD symptoms that have most gotten in your way under control. As she sees progress she is likely to find glimmers of hope she did not previously feel.

      Best of luck,
      Melissa Orlov

      • #58951
        charliebrown
        Participant

        Thank you, Melissa, for describing those three legs so well! The good news is that I seem to have inherently figured that out and can say that I’m being very aggressive on all three legs. In fact, I’m feeling quite good about where I am. I know there’s still work to do, but I’ve made a huge turnaround.

        And I have read The ADHD Effect on Marriage. It was the second book my wife gave me, to help me understand where she stood. It certainly did help!

        However… at this week’s joint therapy session, my wife kind of laid out a big dump of things prior to her life starting with me that caused both the therapist and me to drop our jaws and pretty much say, “Wow.” It was very revealing and courageous to lay out that out there, and I know it was very hard for her. It wasn’t really that she was holding it back before, she had herself really only pieced it together in her head over the last few weeks.

        I contributed to her landing where she is today, but I think it’s pretty much like she had a dark, oogy garage full of super-yucky history that I, in my unaware ADHD state, unknowingly drove her to, dropped her off inside the garage, and left. So at this point what’s really happened is that a lot of past trauma of various kinds have been brought to her surface causing all kinds of terrible emotional distress. Yes, I was the trigger, but she made it clear at the session that I am really not the problem now. I am just the unfortunate beneficiary (as is my wife).

        I knew about everything in her past, so these things are not shocking reveals, but just like her, I had never really put it all together the way she laid out at the session, and how deep some of these past events have cut. The therapist was clearly excited to really see what needs to be worked on, so next week’s session should be very interesting. It may even mean that my wife has some sessions on her own, if that’s what she needs. Whatever it takes.

        After that, any remaining anxiousness I had over anything totally dissipated. I had already logically figured out that the majority of my anxiety was over losing her, and that was dumb because she was clearly putting in a lot of effort to fix things. My emotional side had mostly caught up and agreed with this logic. Now… Well, now I’m totally good and 100% in control of my emotions. The therapist knew during that session that this dump from my wife was going to help me enormously since now I had an explanation for pretty much all of my wife’s behavior toward me. And the therapist is right. My wife can’t handle touching? Not a problem at all, I understand! My wife seems emotionally withdrawn? Not a problem, I understand and will be here when she’s ready. My wife isn’t up to talking about anything right now? Okey doke, let’s do something else! My wife needs an unspecified amount of time to heal? You’ve got it! All the time you need!

        It’s shocking how knowing changes everything. Before, my ADHD brain would think about every possibility and pound on the most negative of them. Now that I know what’s going on, there’s none of that. This allows me to be 100% supportive as the therapist helps her recover. I don’t care how long it takes, I’m going to be here for her and do whatever she needs. I think she’ll eventually come out of this feeling better than she ever has before in her life, because a lot of this was buried in her subconscious even before I dropped her off at the Yuck Garage. In the long run this will give her some peace she’s never had, I am going to put 50 years of unexplained personal ADHD hell behind me, and we should come out of it a very happy, healthy couple. It may take a lot of work and time, but we’re worth it.

        • This reply was modified 3 years, 3 months ago by charliebrown.
    • #58950
      Sarah812
      Participant

      What really bothers me about this situation is the fact that your wife actually told you she “can barely look at you” or something along those lines. That is extremely cruel of her to say and frankly I am surprised you are both still together! It takes two to tear things apart and I think it’s not fair that you must take all the blame. It is never just one person’s fault.

    • #58961
      LarryLCSW
      Participant

      Charlie Brown, as a couples therapist myself, it’s wonderful to read how that one session where you got a chance to understand what was really going on with your wife helped to calm your fears and activate all of your compassion for your wife. Nothing is more devastatingly painful than to feel someone you deeply love pull totally away from you. It’s a very very tough thing that often a spouse (usually the man, and especially a person with ADHD) can miss the mark and miss the signs that what they’re doing is seriously harming their partner’s ability to feel close and to love, until it is almost too late — and sometimes, until it really is too late. Luckily for you, you discovered the problem and what was causing it in time. But it’s truly HELL to live through that stage of a partner’s healing — and as you point out, it’s hard enough for a neurotypical person, but for a person with ADHD, who has trouble dealing with time to begin with, a week can feel like an eternity, and a few months can feel like “never”!

      I’m glad you and your wife had that wonderful session. I suspect there’s a good chance there will be a few more “bad” weeks along the course of your couples therapy. I hope your therapist is able to be supportive of

        both

      of you — because you need a lot of support and empathy too. And, though I know that men often have no one to lean on or talk to besides their wives (I’m a man myself, so I know about this), I hope there is someone else in your life that you can get support from during those tough weeks — someone who totally supports your marriage and can help strengthen you while the two of you heal. I think there’s a great need for more of that kind of support in our society.

      But when the going gets rough, just remember — she’s going to those therapy sessions because she WANTS to be married to you. She WANTS to be close to you again, even if she can’t be right at the present moment. Be strong, show her you understand and you care. Your love for her is so obvious. I think you’ll win her back — by this time next year the two of you will be in a completely different, much much better place.

    • #58972
      chezmo
      Participant

      Charlie Brown, I’m so glad your wife wants to work on the relationship and that you are working very hard to make things work. Healing hurts for her will take time, however you can help it along. It may seem daunting but if you actually write a list of ways you have hurt her, and bit by bit confess to her that you know you have missed her needs, she will begin to see that you UNDERSTAND how much hurt she carries. But that isn’t all. In your confessions you need to tell her what you INTEND to do to change that behaviour. As she sees those changes, she will see how determined you are. That is how trust is rebuilt. Trust is built when the change is seen…not simply by hearing the confession. Taking responsibility for our part is key in starting the process. Now that you understand the role ADD plays in your actions you will make great gains in this process! Identifying ADD patterns is always enlightening. We find a majority of couples coming to us have at least one person with ADD that has gone undiagnosed or ignored for a long time.

      The list might feel random at first, but if you identify the top relational needs you have missed in her, you will begin to see a pattern.
      Attention, Affection, Appreciation, Approval, Acceptance, Comfort, Encouragement, Respect, Security (peace) and Support are the top 10 relational needs. If you need to look up definitions to help you categorize her hurts then by all means, do! This will help you see a pattern. For me I realized respect was one I was missing in my relationship big time. Once I saw that pattern I could work on how my spouse would feel respected.

      This process is usually the most eye opening for our clients, because we don’t usually understand how we have hurt our spouses…or others around us for that matter.

      Keep positive about progress and changes you have made. Don’t beat yourself up for something you were unaware of. Just press on working toward your goal of becoming a better spouse!

    • #59643
      kjklimper
      Participant

      I am just like your spouse. And you’re right it takes time. And I whole heartedly applaud you for taking control and trying to do better for you and her. But what have you done to show her that she’s special? Show her how much you love her and you want her. After years of emotional abuse that connection needs to be restablished from ground zero. Buy flowers, do the dishes when she doesn’t ask, plan a special date night (even if it’s you cooking), tell her how much you appreciate that she did the laundry, and takes care of you. Try holding the door, asking to go to the grocery store with her so she doesn’t have to carry the bags, surprise her with something she really wants but won’t buy herself. For me it was seeing how much he appreciated me, the normal things that I do everyday, and when he touched me. When he made the effort to hold hands, he kissed my neck while I was cooking, brushed hair out of my face, asked me to lay/sit next to him while watching tv… that kind of stuff. Also read the 5 languages of love and figure out what hers is and what yours is. The biggest mistake we all make is loving someone how we need to be loved instead of how they need to be loved. And watch the movie Fireproof, best marriage move ever. Good luck, forgive yourself, and don’t give up on her.

    • #59645
      Sarah812
      Participant

      Along the same lines, the Four Love Languages is a great book.

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