My fiancée and I have been together for five years.
My problem is, whenever we face challenges, she likes to go back to our past.
Back then, I was violent, about which I’m not proud.
It hurts me a lot because I hate what I did to her and she knows how sorry I am.
The other thing is that she’s not active like she used to be in our sexual relationship, which I feel bad about.
Past is Over
Violence isn’t easy to forget. After the pain is long gone, fear and humiliation linger, even for years.
She’s stayed with you. And you’ve apparently gained some control over whatever caused you to lash out violently “back then.”
Now, like all couples, you face some challenges. And that’s likely when she remembers what you did to her.
No, it’s not because “she likes to go back” to those ugly scenes.
She’s frightened that these difficult times and/or strong disagreements will arouse an explosion of your anger against her, potentially including physical abuse.
She needs you to understand that she carries that trauma deep within. It affects her reactions when there’s tension between you, and it’s undoubtedly affecting her ability to relax during sex.
If you didn’t get counselling in the past - individually and together - now is the time for it.
Maybe you had anger management previously and feel you have it under control. But she’s still scared.
You need help to resolve the past, not just forget it.
My wife of 25 years and I have our ups and downs. I often travel, for an average of 80 days annually.
We miss each other and I know she’s very lonely then. Our children live in far-off cities.
My wife, though wonderful, wants me around her often, which frustrates me.
I gave up hiking because she didn’t want me away for a weekend afternoon. She doesn’t drive, no longer works, but my work can be demanding. When I travel I can occasionally hike, just 15km in the city.
I encourage her to join a club but she’s always got an excuse.
This often frustrates me, when I just want my own space, or occasionally to chill out with a video game.
I can’t remember the last time I watched a full hockey or football game without having to turn it off and assist her with something.
We dine out regularly, meet friends, shop together, do some weekend housework together, etc. But I just need my space.
I’ve suggested counselling when we hit a rough patch, but that idea caused more grief.
What can I try to have her give me space?
After 25 years that includes 80 days away annually, this is an issue you’ve let fester too long.
Obviously, once the kids moved away, your wife faced long periods of loneliness.
Yet back home you want space from her.
The issue isn’t uncommon with empty-nest couples, but it’s exaggerated by how much you’re away.
Show her that you get it.
Return from travel devoted to re-connecting. Take nature walks together, go to movies, plan a regular couple of days weekly when you two share errands, shopping, household work, etc.
Plan your “space” ahead and discuss it with her. To watch, say, a three-hour sports game, suggest inviting a friend or couple over with whom she’ll have company.
Be a team player for her needs, too.
FEEDBACK Regarding newcomer hockey players and their parents being “iced out” when they join an existing team (November 11):
Reader – “For parent relationships, initiating contact and developing rapport will signal that you want to contribute and be included in the tribe.”
Reader #2 – “My experience is with girl’s ringette, but the dynamics are the same.
“The new player is good and therefore a threat to team-mates for ice time and for a coveted position on the select or rep teams.
“Parents who show their resentment of this are very childish, the worst aspect of team sports.”
Reader #3 – “When our children began to play hockey, we treated it the same way we behaved at rep soccer. We brought FOOD!
“We bought surprise pizzas for after a hockey game. Other parents began to do the same.
“Our children started to connect with their team mates quickly, and the parents began to talk with us.”
Tip of the day:
The trauma from physical abuse is deep-rooted. Without counselling, old fears can be re-triggered.