Here's my dilemma, my husband and I are having issues. He is always gone for work, which I understand (military) but we have lost our communication. So we started emailing 1 question a day to get back to a happy place in our relationship. We tackle each question and move on. It seemed to be actually working. . But then one of his answers sent sparks in my brain awaking a memory I had forgotten for 12 years. So 12 years ago we were seeing each other in my eyes.. but not officially. We were both in training in the military and young, 21 yr olds. So we did a lot of drinking. One particular weekend we were supposed to hang out but something happened...miscommunication and we didn't meet up. Well he slept with someone. I didn't know for a few weeks and had started my sexual relationship with him that very next day. Later when I found out I was hurt. His response was a typical young man's response saying well we weren't technically dating. I suppressed that memory somehow until now. So I am crazy hurt and angry. To make it all worse this memory collides with a moment with my first husband. My first husband also slept with another girl before we were officially a couple (even though we were sleeping together) so I feel these 2 events are merging and causing heartache. It has been 12 years since current husband did this.. and 16 years since experience with 1st husband.
Because of the events and the pain I am feeling, I have chosen to stop the emails. My current husband insists he did nothing wrong. So my question is am I over reacting to the whole situation? It has been 12 years, and why would I forget something like that? Also why would I care so much after so long.. it's very frustrating.
I’m not sure that overreacting is really the right way of looking at this situation. Long-distance communication can be really difficult and I think what you and your husband are doing, emailing questions, is probably a great way to keep the dialogue going. But you’re definitely going to run into issues over time, this one included, and dealing with those issues long-distance is much more complicated than it would be in person.
So, let’s look at the specifics. I’m not exactly sure what the trigger was in your conversation but from your reaction, I think you must be feeling that you are not being heard or that your feelings are not being taken seriously. Is that the case? I suspect that you suppressed this memory because at the time you were hurt but willing to move past it. But memories get tucked away and some of us (me included) tend to bring those out when our current feelings make us feel the same way we did then. When I’m feeling hurt in my relationship, I often bring up every incident that ever felt the same. Half the time he can’t even remember those things happening, but I can, and the hurt is acute. Remembering makes it feel like it just happened. And the reason those kinds of memories are so painful is because the feelings are completely unresolved.
Let’s take your current husband for example. Young man or no, in blowing off your feelings about his sleeping with someone else, he was sending you a message: you’re making too much of this and I don’t want to take responsibility for my actions. Do we do this when we’re young? Absolutely we do. Heck, we do it when we’re older and wiser too and should know better. Just like now. The compassionate thing for him to do at this point would be to acknowledge your feelings and try to empathize. But as you said, you guys are having a hard time right now and so instead he’s defensive. He doesn’t have to see how upset you are and so it’s easy to write those feelings off as an overreaction.
They are not. I repeat, your feelings are not an overreaction. They are a reaction. We all react. We all have feelings. Feelings are not fact and they are fueled by emotion making them volatile and not grounded in logic. But feelings are real and should be validated, especially by the people we love.
Your first husband is just a repeat of the same feelings and behaviors. His actions were crappy. Period. And your feelings, both then and now, are fully justified. Who cares whether the relationship was “official” or “technical!” People need to have more empathy for other people’s feelings and should take responsibility for their actions (Yes, that is my opinion and boy would the world be a better place if we all acted that way, eh?).
Ok, so let’s get back to you. What I hear you saying is that you have a long history of having your feelings disregarded by the men you are in relationship with. Unfortunately, these feelings are now compounding in your mind. It’s not really these past incidents, these memories, that are bothering you now (I mean, yes they are but really just as examples of the deeper problem). It’s actually the feelings associated. Whatever triggered this memory for you was probably related to feeling that your voice is not being heard or that your feelings are not be considered and taken seriously. So that’ s where you need to start.
Don’t stop talking to your husband. I promise, its not going to fix the problem. Your husband needs to understand how you are feeling and I would suggest that you take a “When you…it makes me feel…” approach. Ask him to listen to you and try not to get defensive. Set ground rules for the conversation and try to stick to them.
If you don’t already have a counselor, I suggest finding one. It would be really helpful to have someone who can help you work through the communication issues that are clearly at the root of your relationship problems with your husband. Military bases often have support services for families. Seek them out. I know you are frustrated and you have every right to be. Give yourself permission to feel frustrated and then to seek resolution. The fact that you and hubby are even trying to make things better tells me that you are both invested in this relationship. Build on that.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.