Emotionally unavailable…yes


I became emotionally unavailable to my husband. Early in our relationship, I was silly, fun-loving and light-hearted whenever possible. The baggage of his unresolved previous marriage and child issues was always there. Every day was one more drama in the story of his life. I tried to live as though we were truly newlyweds, but newlyweds don’t usually settle into being the 3rd person in the marriage because the Ex still runs things. Not if they have a clue anyway.

Clearly, I had no clue.

I took a seat in the back of the bus that was H’s life and problems. I tried to be patient and to put up boundaries but it began to seem that unless I complied with NOT being important and settling for whatever I got – and not bitching about it – I would likely lose the relationship.

[Well-adjusted people might say “Yay! That would have been a good thing.” Hindsight is 20/20 because I had no idea how wrecked my life would become because of his baggage.]

Time after time I would be screamed at, blamed, belittled, demoralized and gutted. Time after time I stuffed it after a series of attempts to be heard. After awhile, I began to live more and more inside of my head. I became afraid to display who I was and what I felt.

[Dear God, please don’t show him how you feel!! You need to be strong and suck it up. This will all pass one of these days and THEN you will have your marriage to yourselves.]

yeah. right.

I carefully moderated what I showed H in terms of emotions. Any time I tried to step out of the subservient box and set boundaries with his family or Ex, I was humiliated.

I became emotionally unavailable (to H) because there was no hope of getting the love I needed in return. My life became jammed with emotional cutoffs, the silent treatment, and unhealthy behavior patterns/interactions. To protect myself I hid. When hiding no longer worked, I had an affair.

[I learned how to hide really well growing up though, much to my credit, I was too stubborn to quit trying to be me. Trouble was, I would forget how bad the punishment was if I tried to change or “become”.]

The long term damage is hard to assess at this point. What I can assess is that if H cannot deal with his end of our marriage problems then I need to accept that he cannot love me the way I want to be loved. Come off of a broken psyche, this acceptance seems a bit impossible to me but that’s reality.

Here’s the hitch: I was not an emotionally unavailable person before I married him and had done a fair amount of self-work to get there. Over the years I’ve shown I can be emotionally available but I’ve also demonstrated that CONDITIONING MATTERS.

Double-bind: Why do I believe my marriage can be saved at my expense?


5 thoughts on “Emotionally unavailable…yes

  1. It can’t. At least not the way things appear to be. You’ve made it clear he won’t change or if he does the process is too slow and keeps you in harms way…at least to your psyche. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten the courage to pull the trigger….but I have no regrets that mine is over. Maybe it’s time to be your own person as completely as you can

    • Yes indeedie. That’s the goal. To be my own person (again).

      For clarification, I do not care much about the pace for either of us – I just want to see something – throw me a bone. Give a little effort. Counseling every other week which amounts to only sometimes seems to suggest that all of OUR problems are MINE.

      uh, nope. Not taking that bait anymore. Oh I’ve learned so much! 🙂

      Unavailable is unavailable. We change that for ourselves because no matter how *awesome* someone else is, it’s still our choice to change. Or not.

  2. Why do you feel like your marriage can be saved at your expense… I think that is a great question for you to answer in detail.

    If I knew the answer to that question for myself…Well, actually, I think I do.

    When I was you I learned that my actions and inactions had huge ripple effects on others. That was a lie my mother told/taught me (because she didn’t know better) and it was a lie not because my actions didn’t have effects on other people, but because of the amplitude of the effect. For example, me not helping with the housework was not going to result in her not being able to pay the mortgage. But that as what she would have me believe. And if I told her I was upset at her for not paying attention to my needs or safely, that did not mean she was a terrible mother (because of me), although she made sure she showed me how destructive my honesty was to her (feelings) in that way…

    Not that you experiences the same ‘training’ necessarily, but I find that the “shutting up and putting up with” I have done in my relationship (which sounds in some ways eerily similar to yours) is motivated ml by such fears… If I do not ‘keep myself in my place’ inTHIS relationship, even if that means absolutely ridiculous and humiliating things, it is ME who has made the relationship unworkable, it is ME who has made HIM look bad, it is ME who has upset his ex and/or kids, it is ME who is the reason for every bad circumstance and bad feeling.

    It is completely ridiculous to think that a little girl can sabotage household finances by not doing her hires, and it is preposterous to think that a woman who is not even in or has anything to do with a past relationship can have anything to do with it’s tumult. But I believe(d) it somehow…

    It comes across as me believing that I am ‘high and mighty’ and that my (in)actions can make the planet spontaneously combust. But I do not feel high and mighty. I simply feel that everything can easily be blamed on me if I do not ‘shut up and put up with’ shit.

    It is simply difficult to unlearn that there is any direct connection between my actions and others’ reality.

    The only way I have begin to unlearn that is to be forced to pay attention to the consequences my actions and words/thoughts have on MY life. Then I can see TRUE connections. And then I begin to see how impossible it is for my actions and words to be able to be any kind of determining factor in someone else’s.

    Thank you for sharing this DG.
    Thank you for being here.

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