Re: needing encouragement and suggestions
4, I have gone back and read your posts and want to respond here publicly for the benefit of others who may be in a similar situation.
How will this play out? Do things get better? How long will it take? Those are all excellent questions but without a clear universal answer.
In your case you have found out during a period when your wife is obviously suffering from flashbacks, nightmares, or general PTSD anxieties. I did not find out at such a time, but I do remember how difficult it was. My wife would have unexplained rages. She would be hyper-critical of me. She withheld all physical and emotional intimacy for years.
So it is good that your wife has let you know now because you have an explanation to much of what is going on. The bad part is that she is going to have to deal with her issues and it is going to be difficult for both of you.
She absolutely needs to be in individual counseling with a qualified person with a lot of experience in this area. You may need to see this counselor once in a while for her benefit and for your benefit. You two may also need marriage counseling, possibly with a different therapist but who is aware of your wife's individual counseling and sex abuse history.
As she explores her memories and confronts things, she may have some bad days or even bad weeks. You can expect her to lash out at you sometimes and for her to say hurtful things. Try to decipher if these are related to her abuse/recovery or if they are from another place. For example she may recoil from sex and call you a sex fiend. That is probably due to her abuse, and so you should not take it personally as an insult or a serious permanent opinion of you. But if she complains that you don't communicate well or you don't do enough housework, those kinds of things you should evaluate as perhaps needing some attention from you.
My wife also had (has?) a distorted view of sex as being illicit and simply a way for men to get their bodily function serviced via using a female body. She is really working hard at rebuilding our sex life, and I am amazed with her efforts. I had to have several discussions with her about my beliefs on sex and emotional intimacy. I told her directly that I could get my bodily function serviced myself or by hiring a hooker, but since I want a deep emotional experience I want to be sexual with her.
I also explained that for me there is a huge emotional rush with simple non-sexual touch. Holding hands is like an IV drip straight to my heart. I told her that whenever I touch her it is me saying "I Love You". She always took it as "I want sex from you now".
I never made the connection that she saw touch as a manipulation for sex, and she never made the connection that for me touch is love, separate from sex.
Things will get better as long as she feels safe telling you what is going on. Even if she tells you she hates sex right now, she needs to feel safe telling you that.
You may feel quite betrayed by her. I know I do by my wife's secrecy. But your wife will not be able to understand it. The flip side is that your wife probably doesn't trust you much right now either. It is a twisted psychology, but the abused woman will generalize her distrust to all men. Her intro to sex was as a young child, so she has no 'normal' perspective on it. So be aware that she is likely to fear your response to her revelations and actions. Be very supportive and encouraging, using positive discussions such as expressing your desire for her to be happy and for you to have a happy and fulfilling marriage. Don't tell her she has to get over it or you are going to leave! Your desired outcome is the same, and you have the right to leave if she can't fulfill your needs for a loving marital relationship. Just don't say it the same way you might have approached other issues before knowing of her abuse history.
You are likely going through a major emotional roller coaster ride. I have known of my wife's abuse for about 4 months. I am still on the ride but it has calmed down somewhat the last month.
From what I have read, and from talking in person to other men who are in similar situations, you cannot expect your wife to ever fully be over her trauma. There will always be the random trigger for her (or you!). But over time things should become nearly normal for her. She should be able to engage in a nearly normal sex life, with the exception that there may be some things she cannot deal with. For example she may not be able to have sex in a particular position because that is the position she was raped in. Emotionally she should be able to learn to trust you and to have a loving relationship.
I would say you are looking at 1 to 5 years recovery for her, based on general stuff I've read about typical abuse survivors.
Probably the biggest help to me has been talking to someone in person who has been through pretty much the same thing as I have. This forum and aftersilence.org have also been a big relief valve to me. Knowing I am not alone, and knowing I am not wrong or unusual in my reactions has been hugely important in being able to keep perspective and hope.
Last edited by Thor; 11-17-2011 at 02:13 PM.