Partners helping vs hindering recovery

HealingMama

Sponsor
Hi again. Surprise surprise, I'm wondering if I should divorce my husband. I've asked him to go with me next week to finish the paperwork. Where we live, you file but can't do the last steps til you have lived apart for a year. So, this would not be a final, permanent action. We would have plenty of time to consider the choice we are making.

I am unsure whether my partner's presence in my life as a partner will help or hinder my recovery. My new therapist told me what I am experiencing with him (him not working, the threat of legal issues, and our communication/conflict/attachment dynamic) is an active trauma so we likely can't work on the original issues until that is stable. I have little control over whether he has a job. I have no control whatsoever on his legal problems and the ways they can or will affect the rest of us. I do have a fair amount of influence over the emotional aspects of the relationship BUT I have been doing absolutely everything possible to address that over many months and it has caused very little movement on his end in the direction I need for my recovery and for the relationship to feel like a source of stability and nourishment vs land mines and chaos.

(That was getting a lot better in recent weeks but there was a regression that I took surprisingly hard. He finds it impossible to maintain stability for the both of us, and is a very reactive person by nature vs someone who can hold steady while I am going through something. If I get worked up he just joins me vs co-regulating. Or he disappears until it's over despite knowing that this makes things worse. He says he learned nothing he does can help and that is why he disappears altogether, but I've told him for at least a year now those things he used to do would actually help now but he won't do them.)

He is good about helping with chores and parenting. He will take over the parenting and other essentials basically entirely if I am having a bad mental health day or bad autoimmune day. He's even stepped up recently on executive functioning type of tasks as when I had that last episode I really couldn't think for several days. So, if we stay as-is, I will have that type of support.

But the emotional/attachment/communication piece will continue to be inflammatory. He says he's working on it but I don't see how. He stopped going to therapy. He doesn't read about any of our issues to understand better how he is adding to them or what he could do to help them. He doesn't remember to do the stuff I've asked him to do that would avoid escalating things. He definitely thinks our issues are mostly my fault. He was so kind to me about starting therapy again and acted surprised when I told him my therapist thinks your unemployment is causing too much stress for me to work on myself. Like hello, he knows about Maslow's hierarchy.

My relationship has been my major source of stress and triggering since... Well since we got married almost. Sometimes I wonder am I basically normal except for being in such a stressful relationship? (Probably not, I still have dissociative issues etc) But I also know how hard it is to work through trauma triggers if your regular life provides no opportunity for the buttons to get pushed. If we separate I won't be seeking another relationship any time soon, and I refuse to allow my parent-child relationship to be used for working through my personal triggers.

I guess I'm looking for opinions on whether a person with attachment trauma in a relationship with a person who is unable to be intentional with their behavior is better served to work on their issues outside of that relationship.

Last time I attempted EMDR and parts work, my protector part came out and was difficult towards the therapist and towards my husband and my marriage took a lot of blows from that. My protector mostly tolerates my husband now. But I'm not stirring up all the "close people are dangerous" stuff either. And, my husband stopped trying to actively show emotional care. For all I know my protector will come out at him if he starts actively showing that care again.

Sorry this is so long. I just know with my history it is hard to trust my own judgment about whether a choice I am making is healthy for me or coming from very clever and well hidden parts of myself. Thanks for any thoughts.
 
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I guess I'm looking for opinions on whether a person with attachment trauma in a relationship with a person who is unable to be intentional with their behavior is better served to work on their issues outside of that relationship.
I think it's impossible to generalize. Some will do better apart. Others, maybe not.

However, for you - and this is just my opinion, take it or leave it - a separation can only be a good thing. From where I'm standing, you've been entirely unable to work on yourself because you're so invested in tallying up all the problems in your relationship. A separation, hopefully, would force you to let your partner deal or not deal with his own issues and let you deal completely with yours. And because it's only a separation, you might find being single is a huge relief and therefore the decision to divorce is easy. Or, if you discover that you really do work better together, if you decide to recommit maybe you can both be on the same side instead of being the frenemies that you are now.

What I'm worried about for you is, due to your codependence, that even if you DO separate, you'll still end up babysitting him from afar. You'll need to try to emotionally separate yourself from him at the same time you physically separate. Hopefully the distance will be a good reminder for you to work on that.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
Thanks @somerandomguy
There is definitely codependency. But he also does not function well on his own. If I do nothing, he will be jobless for a long time and that will mean he moves farther away from our son.
 

Waterbear

Learning
I ended up divorcing my husband. I am better for it. I entered therapy five years ago. My ex husband was like a child in the relationship. A lot of what you mention went on, but on top he was useless at helping me to keep the house (we didn't have children thank goodness). My ex's job was very unstable too. That is so much harder than a lot of people think, I think. Especially if they don't save for the hard times it can be very stressful. If you feel like you constantly need to look after someone, it can be tough to spend enough time looking after yourself. The fact that your partner has given up on therapy and won't read up or act on issues could mean that he has stopped caring /trying to make things better or it could be that he just doesn't know how. Either way, the choice to leave is yours, and maybe you already know in your gut. It is a scary thing to make happen though, for sure, though a separation could be a middle ground. We tried that but my ex was so demanding. Gave me like a week before he wanted to try again. Wouldn't leave me alone. In the end I realised it would always be like that. It is sad but I know it was the best thing for me, my mental health present and my healing from the past. I am in a better place now. With a new partner who very much helps in my recovery. He is patient. Understanding. Respectful. Able to look after himself AND ME when I need it!!!! Something I never had before. I don't know how much help I have been, hopefully some? It really isn't an easy place to be, but change can be a so good sometimes.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
And maybe that's OK.
Maybe? He is already only going to see our son every other weekend. My son will be lucky to see him once a month if he moves away. And that means my life will be so filled up with parenting that it will be hard to eventually find a new partner. I don't want to only be a mom. I want to find a healthy relationship. Can't do that if almost every weekend is taken up with parenting.
 
Maybe. Or maybe you could be catastrophizing?

Personally I'd advise against trying to get into any kind of a relationship right after separating.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
Maybe. Or maybe you could be catastrophizing?

Personally I'd advise against trying to get into any kind of a relationship right after separating.
Oh no, I don't mean right after separating. I mean like a year after that. My husband gets caught by inertia so if he moves away due to a financial crisis and the crisis ends he won't move back. It takes too much for him to change directions for him to do it all on his own like that. I'm not thinking hyperbolically so much as trying to be logical about consequences of various decisions I may make. If he's not financially stable when he leaves, it will all look very different in the long run for my child and myself. I will be angry if he leaves and is still causing so much chaos for me I'm not able to move on with my romantic life after appropriate time grieving and working on myself.
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
I want to echo @Waterbear . Could be him, could be you, or both, but if you're unhappy give yourself a chance to find peace of mind and perhaps eventually a good relationship. For me that took about a dozen years after my divorce. I think it took that long to get to a solid enough place to be open and ready for a truly healthy relationship. It was worth the wait because the love I feel for my bf and from my bf is genuine and without any question. Neither of us are perfect, but the core is pure and unconditional. My ex was so dysfunctional that my current self cannot at all relate to the woman who decided to marry him. I have multiple degrees, had steady jobs, and did so much for him, everything from supporting him when unemployed to helping him better his life. He was a high school dropout, was an addict, drove us into debt, was abusive, and used my abuse history to manipulate me. But I was unable to see the extent of my misery because he hit up all of my blind spots. My father was exploitive, abusive, etc. so I was used to that in my life. Plus, I was trying to rescue him the way I hoped someone would rescue me. In any case, it seems so strange to me now that I would put myself in the position to be so miserable. And it's not even like it was helping anyone because my ex is still really bad off. A good rule of thumb: do what would be best for you and not what your fears tell you.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Oh no, I don't mean right after separating. I mean like a year after that. My husband gets caught by inertia so if he moves away due to a financial crisis and the crisis ends he won't move back. It takes too much for him to change directions for him to do it all on his own like that. I'm not thinking hyperbolically so much as trying to be logical about consequences of various decisions I may make. If he's not financially stable when he leaves, it will all look very different in the long run for my child and myself. I will be angry if he leaves and is still causing so much chaos for me I'm not able to move on with my romantic life after appropriate time grieving and working on myself.
The future is unknown. If he leaves, he does his thing. Whether he lives closely or far away, nothing is a given about how often he will see his son.
And you're analysing your future life on where he lives, rather than what you do.
Maybe you will make new friends with other single mums and you all take turns to baby sit for dating?
Maybe you will find a partner who is also a single parent and understands?
Maybe you will decide being single is great and you want many years of just having to think about you and your child rather than another person?
If you are able, I would try and ditch the negative feelings about what he might or might not do and how concrete you think the consequences for your life will be as a result.
Future is there, full of possibilities.
 

grit

Not Active
As I dive into my own trauma recovery, I realize even good parts have some unsavory sides that are not helpful hence why I keep having them. I wonder what are the negative forces with your protective parts that may sabotage your life, marriage or therapy? If you take your protection part as face value while you (or this part)havocs your life, then it is no longer protective but also destructive? can you look into this part deeply and see what else it is asking or has become adaptive or is negative in your life?
 
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