Emotional Starvation: When it is Exhausting to be Married to Your
Written by: Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, National Certified
Counselor, McKinney, TX.Supervised by: Debra Dian Larsen, MS,LPC-S
Marriage is“supposed” to be this wonderful union of two people who support, cherish and love each other. Well, you may not have received the fairy tale marriage that you once had hoped and dreamed about. Maybe it is quite contrary and you often find yourself feeling drained by your spouse? Do you sometimes feel like it is exhausting to be married to your spouse?
If you are in a marriage where you constantly have to defend your
feelings, then you are probably exhausted. Maybe you have the spouse who tells you how you should feel, or how you should NOT be feeling. This is the spouse who has little regard for your boundaries and does not accept that you can have feelings that may be different from theirs. This type of spouse will demand an explanation of why you are feeling sad, glad, mad or whatever feeling you are experiencing. When you have attempted to explain why you are having these feelings, then you are probably told that you are wrong for having these feelings or that you have overreacted.
Feelings are feelings. There is no right or wrong feeling at a certain time. You feel what you feel. The exhausting spouse not only demands that you feel what they feel, and tells you are wrong for feeling the way you do; they will even turn up the intensity by their crafty tools of denial and rationalization. These tools are used on you when you may be addressing something that you are unhappy about in your marriage, behaviors that are harmful or the lack of intimacy.
You may be feeling that the new gaming system has taken priority in your marriage or your spouse now has a closer relationship with their iPhone than with you. You go to your spouse and tell them that you are feeling sad and hurt because you feel like you are not important to your spouse. Your spouse then tells you that your feelings are wrong and then they rationalize their own behavior by fabulous denial strategies.
Your intent was to create emotional closeness in the marriage by trying to communicate what you are experiencing and feeling. Your intent was then met by ramblings of how you are wrong to feel and experience things in thatmanner. Eventually you become completely exhausted, shut down or move out.
What could be happening here is Intimacy Anorexia or the protection of an addiction. Addicts will protect their addiction until the bottom falls out, and they decide to do something different. Intimacy anorexics want to appear “good” at all times, therefore; they will spend much energy and effort at being “right” at all cost. Whatever may be happening in your marriage, you may want to take a look and think about what you are willing to accept. Most likely, things will not change until you turn up the heat and decide to change the pattern.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at McKinney
Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
Intimacy Anorexia: When Hearing the Words “I love You” is as Exciting as Purchasing Toilet Paper
Written by: Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, National Certified Counselor, McKinney, TX.Supervised by: Debra Dian Larsen, MS, LPC-S
Want to hear another weapon utilized by the intimacy anorexic person? It is the meaningless “ I love you” words. The words are spoken, but the intended recipient of the words feels empty, sad and frustrated. The spoken” I love you’” words had meaning in the past. You may have been the recipient of empty I love you words. You desperately try to tell yourself that the words have meaning and are true. You tell yourself that your spouse loves you because they said so. Intimacy anorexia may be pulling you on an insanity rollercoaster.
At some point, you realize that the” I love you” mean as much as saying: “Add toilet paper to the grocery list.” At this point, reality stares you in the face and you know and understand that the “I love you” words are simply that… just words. You come to realize that there have not been behaviors or actions to show you that you are loved, cherished, respected and important to your spouse. Some people state that they feel like a puppet- moving to the strings that are being pulled by their spouse.
Why would the intimacy anorexic spouse utilize the “I love you” strategy? You have probably already been exposed to the shaming, blaming, criticizing and the rest of it. In an attempt, to keep you hooked onto the puppeteer’s strings and to keep you moving to the tune of the intimacy anorexic spouse, they need something to add to the arsenal of intimacy anorexic toolbox to keep you hooked. They keep you hooked by the “I Love You’s”. This does not take much effort. It takes a second to say the words and they know that you are hooked again. You so desperately want to believe the words, so you do. Until one day, when you see that you have taken the intimacy anorexic bait for a while. Love is shown by actions; love is felt in your soul and you are not feeling it.
This “I love you” weapon is very powerful and is great for the intimacy anorexic spouse because their emotionally starved spouse is drawn back in. You are not threatening to leave, you hold on to the emotionally starved relationship and the intimacy anorexic can withdraw again, and the cycle repeats. The vicious circle goes like this: Intimacy anorexic spouse withdraws and emotionally starves their spouse. The starved spouse now gets angry and addresses the issue. The intimacy anorexic spouse gets afraid of losing their spouse, so they utilize the”I love you” weapon. The emotionally starved spouse now calms down and the intimacy anorexic can withdraw and withhold again until next time.... until you change the pattern.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
Written by: Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, National Certified Counselor, McKinney, TX.
Supervised by: Debra Dian Larsen, MS, LPC-S
If you have recently discovered that you are a partner of a sex addict, then you have just stepped onto an emotional roller coaster. The ups and downs will be fluctuating wildly in the early stages of finding out that your spouse has been acting out sexually behind your back. At this time, the turn to a smoother ride is nowhere in sight. This is not a sprint type of recovery. There is no magic pill or potion that will provide a quick fix- healing from your partner’s addiction is a marathon. It will take time to get off the emotional roller coaster. As a partner of a sex addict, you will have your own healing to do. You have been deceived and manipulated for a long time. You are probably experiencing a lot of anger, fear and pain at this time.
So now that you know, what do you do? First of all, know and chant the 3 C’s until it registers in your mind. The 3 C’s stand for: Cause, Control and Cure. The 3 C’s refer to these facts: You did not cause this addiction, you cannot control the addiction and you cannot cure it. There is nothing you can do to “make” your spouse do anything. Recovery is an inside job. You can tiptoe, walk on eggshells and try to make everything stress free in an attempt to prevent him from acting out; you will fail. You can disregard your own emotional needs, focus all on his needs and give him lots of love and attention; you will fail. It does not matter what you attempt. You will fail unless HE chooses to make a change for himself.
Also know that this addiction most likely entered his life long before he met you. You will probably find out that the addiction started during the adolescent years. So, you are not the cause of his addiction. You can’t control it, no matter how hard you try. Trying to control this addiction will only put you on the insanity roller coaster where you will end up exhausted and empty. You can’t cure anyone of their addiction. No matter if you sneak recovery books onto his nightstand, find a therapist for him and closely monitor him. IF he doesn’t want to overcome this addiction, he will not. Focus on healing yourself instead-regardless of what he will or will not do.
At this early time of just finding out, many partners report feeling out of control. They have the urgency to find ALL the answers and wanting to find out everything that her spouse has been doing. Once again, be patient and as gentle as you can be on yourself. Stop, wait and take the time to process what you are experiencing. You deserve to give yourself some time to think. Some partners have to know every single detail relating to the acting out behaviors. Some partners do not want to know anything else.
What is right for you? What are the benefits for you in finding out every detail? What are the negatives? I strongly caution clients in asking for too much information because this can lead to additional pain and future triggers for you. I don’t advocate for keeping you in the dark. You have been in the dark for a long time. I only suggest that you process and think about how much information you need, what are you going to with that information and are you ready to hear the answers to the questions that you ask?
The best thing you can do during these tumultuous times is to take care of yourself. Seek out support, journal, rest, try different recovery tools and you may want to seek professional help in starting your own healing journey.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist