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My Wife’s Childhood Trauma Is Affecting our Marriage

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From Canada: I’ve been married to my wife for 17 years, During that whole time I’ve found it difficult to be close and openly intimate with my wife, she has said on many occasions that I am the only one that she has had difficulty with having a fulfilling sex life with.. Funny enough that’s the exact same feeling that I have to..
My wife has horrible mood swings which she attributes to her hormonal cycle from the very beginning of our Marriage, this has greatly affected our Relationship together. During our Relationship we have had great times but also very low times because of her moods and anger.
5 Years ago I had to move overseas for my work and commute home to see my family.. This was a very trying time as I didn’t have a consistent schedule for returning home. On top of that my wife’s mood swings and anger continued..
I unfortunately began an affair which Devastated my wife, when she asked me why I did it I answered her honestly, that we weren’t having sex, and that the other woman was more gentle with no anger or mood swings.

My wife broke down and told me the reason she wasn’t sexual with me was because she was molested when she was a child by her relatives.. I felt horrible that she never told me this as I would have been sympathetic and understanding..

My wife has sought counseling for my infidelity but she refuses to tell the councillor about her childhood past, she says that she has been able to cope with it.

It’s troubling me a lot because I now see a lot of her symptoms resemble those of a personality disorder.

I love my wife and feel horrible for what I have done,  but I don’t have the strength anymore to deal with her symptoms. Please Help.

My Wife’s Childhood Trauma Is Affecting our Marriage

Answered by on -

A.

You two have been through a lot. None the less, you have stayed together for 17 years. That’s reason enough to try to salvage the relationship.

I don’t think your wife is correct. Regardless of her perception that she has been able to cope with her past, it is likely that her mood swings and her difficulties with sexual intimacy are connected to the childhood abuse.

Ironically, sometimes a person with a history of abuse knows how to deal with sex with someone who doesn’t matter but can’t be intimate with someone who is loving.  She may fear that the circumstances of abuse will happen again — where  someone who supposedly loved her hurt her.

Your wife’s therapist can’t get to the root of her anger and mood swings without knowing her entire history. It’s understandable if it is easier for your wife to talk about your infidelity than what happened to her as a child. Thinking about revisiting that history of abuse may be terrifying. But I do think it is important for her to do just that if she is to have a loving, intimate relationship with anyone.  Her therapist should know how to help her feel safe and supported while she does that therapeutic work.

If any couple needs couples counseling it is the two of you. Clearly, there is much to talk about but you two may not know how to do so without triggering her anger and your guilt. A couples counselor can help you both understand what has gone on for each of you that you haven’t been able to be the kind of partners you both want and can help you learn better ways to be supportive of each other. Further, a counselor can provide a safe place where you can bring your hopes and fears.

I wish you both well.

Dr. Marie

My Wife’s Childhood Trauma Is Affecting our Marriage

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). My Wife’s Childhood Trauma Is Affecting our Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/03/02/my-wifes-childhood-trauma-is-affecting-our-marriage/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Feb 2020 (Originally: 2 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Feb 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.