Nothing Left To Give

Twenty years into my marriage I found myself feeling abandoned by my husband. I really struggled with him not being there for me. I felt very little connection between us. I needed him to listen and show that he cared about how I felt – to look me in the eyes and be present so I’d know he had my back.

But that wasn’t something he knew how to do. For many years I came second to his business, and when I did tell him how I felt, he’d dismiss my feelings as if they weren’t even real. I began to feel like I was raising our children alone. He spent so much time volunteering on different charity boards. These were all good things. Many people respected him and needed his help. But it took him away from time with the family. We needed him. I needed him.

I’d be in the family room in the evening watching TV and he’d be in his office still working at something. Or he’d come home, eat quickly and be off for that 7 o’clock meeting. Or he’d give me a to-do list, and I would say to him, “I’m not your secretary. Hello? I’m your wife.”

He would always say, “just after this next project, then things will slow down.” That was the mantra in our family, but things never did slow down.

I totally fell apart on Mother’s Day weekend in 1992, and I’ve hated Mothers Day ever since. I just started crying and I cried for about three days. It was like an implosion; the air just went out of me.

I couldn’t have anyone around me. I just needed to be alone. I had nothing to give anybody. I just sat doing nothing. I went to the doctor and he said I was having a nervous breakdown.

He’d dismiss my feelings as if they weren’t even real. I began to feel like I was raising our children alone.

I had to start taking some meds. The first one made it worse; like my brain was scrambled. The second one at least helped to calm me a bit. The doctor said that for six months I was to do nothing, so that’s what I did.

It took Don a few weeks to realize how serious it was. I just wasn’t getting better. At first he thought it was because of the stress of our busy life, but he eventually saw his part in it.

The counseling we had over the next few years brought him to the point of answering the question: “Why do you work so hard at negating your wife’s feelings?” When our counselor asked him this, it really hit him hard. He realized that when he dismissed how I felt, it would shut me down inside, and that by not listening to me it meant I had to carry all the stress of life by myself.

So he stopped many of his volunteer involvements and really worked at listening to how I was doing. He even began learning how to share his feelings with me. That made me feel like we were a team. We were going to make it through this together.

I started to really feel affirmed. Don would tell me how I was a good wife and mother and friend. There was a deep connection growing between us and that helped me become myself again and heal.

Don says that with emotional damage, it’s not a matter of taking a glue can and putting it back together again. It’s a lot more complicated than that and it takes time. We had to reach out and get help. That’s when he began to figure out his part, and only then did the healing process start for me.

If you find yourself feeling emotionally abandoned by your partner, I would encourage you to talk with someone here. If you leave your contact info, someone on our team will connect with you to listen and offer support.

Do you suspect that your husband is using porn? Read Maureen's story: Hardcore Betrayal.