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Troubled Marriage

Question:

I have been married for 35 years. We never had sex before marriage due to our strong religious foundation. Presently my wife has refused to be intimate with me since August of last year. First of all I feel that it is my fault. I am a combat wounded veteran of two wars and suffer from PTSD. This has affected my wife. I love her with all my heart, but in a counseling session she commented that she was not sexual attracted to me in explaining why she was not intimate. Since our marriage she talks to herself. I mean it is not like a one way conversation. It is as if someone is taking back to her. She even laughs and uses hand movement and gestures when talking. I am a form Green Beret and have had 5 orthopedic surgeries and have severe chronic pain. I am under the care of two doctors who prescribe my pain medications. My wife say that I am addicted to pain medication. Today I saw my pain management doctor and emptied my basket so to speak. I stopped taking my pain medication two months ago by myself and showed him my bottles with the seals still intact and he looked at the dates. He cited numerous reasons that “I was not addicted” to pain medication because a person with an addiction does not stop taking their meds, they try to get more and do other things that show that their medications are a priority with them. My wife and I attended counseling sessions and the counselor a CCAS (Certified Chemical Addiction Specialist) stated that there was a thin line between addiction and dependency. My MD at the pain management center tells me that have no characteristics for be addicted to the pain medications and that he has had only a few out of thousands of his patients who were in fact addicted. My wife has an appointment with a psychiatrist and tells me that some of her problems have nothing to do with me. One issue she has with me is that I made a promise not to email a high school female friend who is getting married on the 10th of May. I promised, but when I got an email that she was getting married I returned a congratulations note. I have always been open and honest with my wife and told her this. Of course she was upset that I did not honor my promise. I apologize, but it seems that she is full of hurt and angry for some of my actions over the last 20 years. I try to be the best husband I can be. I send her flowers twice a month, cards, buy her gifts, fix her coffee at 0530 in the morning, fix her breakfast, and do all the house work since I retired from the military in 2000. I do this out of my love for her. I tell her frequently that I love her with all my heart. I would be interested in a general opinion of what is going on with her. She is 58 years old and I am 62. It has been difficult to be doing all the giving and not getting any receiving. At one point I asked her if she was unhappy with me that she might want to consider a divorce to find the man who is perfect and meets all of her ideas for a good husband. She replied that she did not want anyone else. It really seems that she is consumed with hurt and angry due to some of my behavior. I pray every day about our situation. We read the Bible every night and have devotional readings also before we go to bed. This is much more than a question, so evaluate the situation and I would like to see what you think. I love her with all my heart and I am willing to do anything to rebuild our marriage.

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

Your desire to understand and better respond to your troubled marriage is heartfelt and admirable. It must be very difficult to be working as hard as you are to preserve your marriage, only to find that your efforts don’t seem to be appreciated. Having read over your statement several times, I’m not sure that I have any significant insight to offer you. You are struggling to understand your wife’s withdrawal, trying to correlate it with your behavior (your PTSD and medical conditions, your prescription pain medication, the breakfasts you make and the flowers you send), but I don’t think the answer is there. Only your wife seems to know why she is withdrawing – only she can tell you what is happening – and unfortunately for you she seems to not want to make her issues clear. Your desire to work hard to fix your marriage, the list of caring things you do for your wife – all this is wonderful, but you need accurate information to help inform your actions, or you risk spinning your gears. You seem action oriented, but you also can hopefully appreciate that sometimes by doing more you end up accomplishing less. I think you have to find a way to better understand why your wife is so upset and angry with you. Draw her out on what it is about the way you have lived that is bothering her. Listen to her in a non-defensive manner. Only knowledge of what is really bothering her can help you to know what you might do that could turn the situation around. Good luck to both of you in figuring this out.

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