Relationship Please, can someone who has dealt with being married to a rape victim help me?

enough

MyPTSD Pro
I have to state upfront that I am a victim posting in the supporter's section because that's where I think I will get the answers to my questions.

I know I am pretty much limited in how I can help my wife, that she has to heal alone and I can at best be supportive of her and patient with her. At least that's how I see it, that's what I have been told before.

But it has been 5 years, and i am living with a stranger in many ways. We are getting older and there isn't much time left for either of us. Covid has stolen some of that.

She has been seeing a counselor but from all i have heard and seen, her caregiver is not much help, more of a paid friend to share her misery with. The ONLY push I give her is to try another source, just to explore the help available to her.

Things are accelerating due to our ages and her health deterioration, we don't get many more years and these could be great years, it is hard to just patiently support her.

I feel guilty for even hearing my counselor tell me "you can't change her, just you, divorce, pay alimony, and live whats left of your life the best you can in the situation you find yourself in". It tears me apart to even listen to that and then go back the next week and hear it again. But that really is my only way to actively change the situation, isn't it? Every other course of action is a strictly adhered to lack of action. Patience, support, all of the rest of our lives if it never changes, and we are running out of time for changes.

Anything, any advice, any stories of success, any coping strategies, anything. Maybe I have insight because I know PTSD from the inside, maybe it clouds my vision, like I know my healing is only done by me (with counseling) so i assume that it is all up to her and I have to take the back seat and wait for it. That my only allowed intrusion into her trauma is to suggest getting better counseling. Thanks for even reading this far, and thanks to anyone that will take the time to respond.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
@enough you need to keep in mind you are in the supporter section. This isn’t the place to come and get offended by reasonable questions.
I took it wrong and I missed a valuable point. Got it now, will reflect on it going forward. @gumshoe asked what the relationship dynamic was like and I didn’t answer. Everyone here is helping me out the best they can and answering my questions, returning the courtesy is like the cost of entry and I dodged it. @gumshoe so sorry and thanks.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
The relationship dynamic is far from ideal and has been for years. Highly functional in that we have raised happy healthy kids with good marriages and hardly a traffic ticket between them. And we support our grandkids and friends and friends of friends the best we can and always have. No dog shit goes over the fences, we pick up the trash when the can blows over. But we have different lives and relate to our worlds in different ways and I don’t get her view of the world and she doesn’t get mine, including what goes into and what comes out of a marriage or how to work out solutions and present a united front. I fix the cars and she fixes the kids, I clean up the rare big messes and she cleans up the unnending small ones. Post rape I would say she orbits a state of hysteria and I drift in and out of the first responder mold @Friday mentioned above, emotions off, responsibility on. Not irreconcilable but sure as hell differences, probably the biggest gap is honesty and integrity, I lie and hate myself over it for years and she lies to get through the next ten minutes easier. It doesnt feel fair to say much more, it feels like I am just about, almost, betraying a trust that she has that I wouldn’t air these things in public. That’s the dynamic as I see it, wish it wasn’t what I saw.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
@enough - just wanted to say that your post above ^^^ strikes me as about as neutral an assessment as one could give, for a situation that is emotionally and functionally the opposite of neutral. That is to say: it's impressive, the way you can look at both sides (your and her behaviors) and really look at it. Doing this will eventually get you to a better understanding of what the next steps are, I truly believe it.

Please try and remember that this is extremely taxing stuff to do, and I just wanna validate that it's really ok to take things out, think about them, articulate them when needed...and then put them back on the shelf and give yourself permission to just be. Something that'll put you in the present, help you re-ground, that's just for you.

I feel for you, I really do.
 

gumshoe

Learning
I took it wrong and I missed a valuable point. Got it now, will reflect on it going forward. @gumshoe asked what the relationship dynamic was like and I didn’t answer. Everyone here is helping me out the best they can and answering my questions, returning the courtesy is like the cost of entry and I dodged it. @gumshoe so sorry and thanks.
"Life is difficult". M Scott Peck
You owe me no apology. However, it's good to see you can humble yourself so quickly with the facts presented.
Forgive yourself...
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
being righteously pissed is her self therapy, even though pissed is far from a righteous emotion at the time. It seems to be the end of most days, the part no one sees but me.
I can see where learning to feel "righteous anger" might be a good thing. But the "righteous" part of that is pretty important. I know my T always stressed the need to understand WHAT you are actually angry about and WHO you are actually anger at. Sorting out the difference between what's "real" and what's a projection, what was then & what is now, hugely important.
My therapists want me to give them her name,
Is something holding you back from giving them the name? Because it seems like it would be best for everyone if things got kicked up a level there. I know, for myself, there are plenty of times when, if I step back and ask the question, I'm really not sure if I'm reacting accurately to the present or getting things confused. Sometimes it's nice to be able to turn the information over to someone who's perceptions aren't so messed up and see how they sort it out. You COULD be reading some of this wrong. (I don't think you are.) But I see no harm in giving your therapists the name and seeing where that takes things.
her own need for growth beyond the state of just having been raped and pissed as hell, some 5 years down the road.
Personally, I think this is huge. JMO but a lot of this is a choice. We all choose to stay where we are or work on moving on. The moving on part can be pretty hard, but there's a choice to be made first there at the start. I think this is why I dislike being called a "victim" so much. To me, a victim is someone who's stuck there in that state of being victimized. Apparently my personality is such that I'd rather die that be stuck there. But I know, or have known, people who seem ok with being stuck in a helpless place where someone takes care of them. (My idea of a victim.) Of course, for that to work you need someone to take care of you. IDK. It's all complicated. I just don't think anyone does anyone a favor by encouraging them to feel stuck.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
people who seem ok with being stuck in a helpless place where someone takes care of them.
thats a huge part of this marriage dynamic. And her counselor seemed to play into that before she was raped. I have been told by everyone to be patient and tolerant and supportive. the big push from me has been to try to steer her to a better counselor.

We are all different on this PTSD bus, my experience isn't a useful tool when trying to understand someone elses. But I think it is human nature to do just that.

Not being supported, not getting sympathy, living in a world with no patience (try telling your roommates you don't have the rent just yet and need to work an extra shift so they will need to do the house chores and you will be running the washer and drier in the middle of the night so you can have clothes for tomorrow, patience tolerance, support please) made me work harder, prepare for better jobs, learn to survive. The hard knocks made me harder, and that has made all the difference.
That doesn't work for her. She has a world with no boundaries, she will be OK as long as I provide the patience, support and tolerance. She can lie to me, neglect my needs, basically whatever she wants to do or not do is OK, sometimes it is as if even clocks have no meaning in her world and any appointment made on time is by chance or if I remind her.

Sometimes I think maybe the best thing I could do for her is leave her here alone and let her deal with the power company when the electricity gets shut off when there was money in the bank.

Not trying to paint myself as a victim, am I? I signed up for this, a victim of my own choices.

Is something holding you back from giving them the name?
yes. And i hate that there may be other people that need help more than my wife that are getting just the kool aide of a failed counselor and that there is no limiy to the bad places she may be allowing them to go. I hope they get it that she is bad, outside looking in I see her practice shrinking when others are so busy they take appointments for a day for an intake session maybe 6-8 weeks out most places so I take solace that most of them are. I struggle with it. I would rather we just walked away and found better. I would rather we just gave her the money and she left us alone. i don't know if I would have to but I am far from bearing witness before a state ethics board, it would be hard on my wife and our marriage and I don't think she would see the necessity of it, even if she was sanctioned. I try to steer her towards better help.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
I signed up for this,
I'm honestly not sure that's true. I'll grant the act of getting married signed you up for something, but I'm not sure you realized it was this. And maybe it WASN'T this at the time.
We are all different on this PTSD bus,
So true!!!

I don't know your wife, except through what you've said here. The same way that I don't know the whole you, just what I've seen here. And, like you mentioned, we tend to see other people through the lens of our own experiences and that may or may not be useful. So, what I'm about to say might be way off or totally not useful.

My T once described my mother as a "passive aggressive narcissist." Towards the end of her life, she fell and broke a hip. I've read her medical records. (After she died.) It was a simple uncomplicated break with an excellent prognosis for full return to normal function. She'd been living on her own, although she was planning to sell the house and move into something smaller. She started out in a wheelchair and she never got out of it again. She was moved from a nursing home to assisted living early in her recovery. She stayed one weekend and went back to the nursing home because she "didn't think she was getting enough attention." She fell in the first place because she refused to do the exercises the PT folks wanted her to do. (I know I probably sound a bit unsympathetic....) All through this, I kept telling myself this was her, not me and while the whole situation wouldn't work for me at all, it was HER it had to work for and it was working the way she wanted it to. Once, we had a phone conversation where she was guilt tripping me with a sad story about how awful everything was and she was just a poor helpless old lady who's daughter (me) wasn't paying her enough attention etc. As I was listening the aide came in to ask about supper & my mom flipped 180% and ripped into her about something that seemed pretty trivial. Then flipped back when she returned to our conversation. Nope, the old lady could more than take care of herself, it's just that the way she did it was totally foreign to my world view.

Along a similar line, I've been involved with several people who's idea of a "relationship" was to find someone they could use and then use them. What I've noticed is that these people have never been as helpless as I thought they were. Once I decide to leave, they ALL have found someone else to use post haste. My ex-husband was remarried in less than a year. His kids (from his first marriage) were worried about him being alone when I left. I had dinner with them all on my way out of town & they were talking about that. I told them there was nothing to worry about, that "mark my words" he'll be remarried in a year of so. And he was.

It's a skill set, I think. Like you said, we deal with stuff (with or without PTSD) in our own way, based on personality and what's worked in the past. I learned early on that if the cavalry was coming over the hill, it WASN'T to rescue me. Other people have a different experience and build on that. I don't think there's anything you can do that will change how your wife approached life......

As I was writing that, it dawned on me that we're in the supporters section here and it's good to get their take on this. They say here a lot that you more or less have to put on your own oxygen mask first. (I read this section a lot, trying to learn how to be a better partner, should anyone ever come along again who wants to be involved with me. LOL) They talk a lot about needing to be clear on what YOU get from the relationship and how likely is it that things will change, etc. I think it's only fair that the supporter looks out for themselves. No one exists to be a doormat for someone else. One can CHOOSE that, if they want, and some people do, I think maybe because it fills some sort of need for them. (I know I have that tendency. Not so deep down inside, I feel like my only value in the universe is whatever I can be or do for someone else. Makes me kind of an easy mark.) The thing is, really, I think it ought to be a two way street. The status quo seems to be working for your wife. I don't see where she has any reason to change things up. She's not likely to change therapists either, because this one is giving her exactly what she wants.

I DO think it's possible that some of what you're experiencing has something to do with her transferring some of her feelings about the rape and the rapist to you, probably without even knowing that's what she's doing. From what I've seen of you here, I can't imagine you doing anything that would set that up, other than being male and in the area. In that case, there's not much you can do. SHE somehow has to become aware of what she's doing and then learn to do better. But first she has to WANT to.

IDK. I don't think anyone has an obligation to be a punching bag for life. Relationships might not always be a totally even deal, but both people should benefit and, at the very least, both people should be able to feel valued and appreciated.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
. One can CHOOSE that, if they want, and some people do, I think maybe because it fills some sort of need for them. (I know I have that tendency. Not so deep down inside, I feel like my only value in the universe is whatever I can be or do for someone else. Makes me kind of an easy mark.)

I know I fell in love with him before he let me see the PTSD. Believe it or not, I think that’s true for most supporters. We don’t really know what we’re getting ourselves in to. Somebody can say “I have PTSD” all they want, we still don’t *know* until we get blindsided.

Love is a good motivating factor for the patience it takes to deal with this all. The boundaries and putting your own mental health first is just self defense.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
Took some time for me, nearby town, at a kind of restored vehicle show, started with a color guard, I stood and removed my hat and turned my phone to silent, then was taking pictures and seeing old acquaintances for like two hours with my phone off
She was trying to reach me because her leg had spasm Ed and popped her month old hip replacement out of socket, I was maybe two hours behind the ambulance, been here in ER and just opened my phone and read the post above by @scout86 and yeah, sometimes it is more than I signed up for, but what a ride! She needs me to be here tonight, 100%, and maybe that’s a good place to be for as long as necessary, 100%, Nothing else is enough, I am 100% or the holes in the armor start to spread and grow.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
@scout86 that was really well-written, I found myself nodding along. My mom despised her mom for playing the victim all her life. Which confused me because Nana revealed that she had been sexually assaulted as a young girl by a friend of the family and hid it for decades. Wasn’t she a victim, I asked myself.

She was the nice grandma, the spoiling one, but my mom said she was vicious to her oldest daughter, my mom’s sister—constantly snipping at her and deriding her, even though Auntie was Nana’s caretaker.

Soon before Nana died she fell out of bed injuring herself badly. I’ll never forget the look of disgust on my mom’s face when she announced this and sneered, “I’m sure she did it on purpose!”

How could someone will themselves to fall out on purpose, I wondered.

I wasn’t privy to all those dynamics. My mom also believes that Nana provoked her husband to abuse her by being an insolent shrew, attacking him with her words then sobbing when he went after her. So my mom does think Nana deserved to be hit.

Which might explain why Mom sat idly by as my dad beat my brother and I. Nana and Grandpa never divorced. My mom only divorced my dad when it came to light that he had sexually abused me as a baby. They had been married over 40 years and he was terrible to her but she wanted to do the right thing, plus she had something to complain about.

For some people complaining is their only lifeline to connection. Life itself is one big complaint and they ensure their perspective by only interacting with people who buy into it.
 
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