30 March 2012

It feels like dating all over again...

Pete is sleeping on the couch tonight.  I'll explain that in another post about boundaries, but I've been lying awake alone in my bed thinking about an email from a reader, especially in light of today's events. 

She said I could share her questions here, I think we all want as much help as we can get, but I think I'll just call her A.H.

She asked:

"I feel like I have made good progress with myself and my feelings toward my husband. He also is doing good and has made great progress. I feel like I’m ready to start rebuilding our relationship. But after all that has taken place were do you start. I find it hard to even hold a conversation with him. I want to be close to him but yet I’m not sure how. I feel as if we have nothing in common any more. "

Let me just say, I can totally relate.  And while we are doing so much better, even today there were moments where I felt confused about us.  I will come back to that, but I know that there is an elephant in the room as they say.  Hugging your own husband feels awkward, laughing together feels unnatural, it is just uncomfortable and I often feel like we're dating all over again.  So I've tried to think about what has helped the most to rebuild a broken relationship and I came up with these four things.

1. Let go of the anger. 

The day and night before Mother's Day last year were bad for Pete, and I hardly slept that night.  We were out of town visiting family, so it was fake it fake it fake it, and then on Mother's Day we went to church and it was fake it fake it fake it.  Then we drove the longest most uncomfortable four hours back to our hometown.  I felt so hurt and broken, but occasionally one or the other of us would start up a conversation.  But as soon as things started to feel "normal" again I would grasp for my anger.  I needed it, I couldn't forgive him yet.  Not yet. 

Sometimes we sabotage our own efforts to heal our relationship because we are so scared to let go of the hurt.  If we let go we feel like we lose our power, our control.  But the little inklings of resentment I carried around were just walls that prevented Pete and I from seeing each other again. 

2. Create comfortable environments, make new memories.

This is the dating part, and it sounds so cheesy, and at first it felt so FORCED.  But doing things that we've always done is so helpful.  For us, nothing breaks the ice like a bowl of popcorn.  These comfortable environments are great, stirring up old feelings.  But I think even more important is making new memories.  Start a new tradition, something forward facing. I think there is much to be said for focusing on the future.  Interestingly, our new tradition is going to meetings each week.  They are about 25 minutes away and it gives us a good chance to talk.  On the way there we talk superficial: "How's work? What did you do today?"  On the way back we are little more open and we can talk about the heavier stuff. 

We also found a tv series we both really like that we can watch together.  We make plans, and then do them.  If you feel like you have nothing in common or nothing to talk about start with something as simple as a Readers Digest.  Read an article together or even just the jokes. 

3. Communicate

Tell him what you just told me.  Tell him you want to be close to him.

Mara has been blogging lately about being vulnerable.  When Pete and I fell in love it felt so good to be vulnerable.   Then I got hurt.  Now I want to be strong and independent.  But I've learned that I have to be honest and share my feelings, even if it makes me feel vulnerable. The more I share, the closer I feel to him.  I share when I'm worried, I shared when I've had a breakthrough, I share when I discover a new weakness in myself, I try to apologize when I know I'm wrong.  It is important to say "This helps, I like this." Or "This is not helping, I don't like this. " And  "I need _______."  Or "Can we not do __________?" And try to be the person that he can do likewise with you. 

4.  Time 

I don't know what else to say about this.  It will just take time.  Be patient with yourself and him. 

I mentioned that today I was having some of those old feelings.  There was a "slip", there was a confession, and my initial reaction was peaceful and forgiving.  But then I started to doubt myself, did I make that too easy?  Anger taunted me, called to me.  As soon as it did it was like the ground and air was freezing around me, tension, awkwardness.  Fortunately I was able to dismiss those feelings before they got the better of me, and it felt good. 

I am so hopeful for you, A.H. that there will be very tender moments with your husband, that will lay the foundation for a deeper relationship.  You know the bitter now, it is nasty, and when you find the sweet, it will be oh so sweet!

Okay now- everyone else- how do you do it? Where did you start?


  1. Is anyone watching this Addiction segment between conference? You guys this is AWESOME! WE are so not alone! You are not alone! I know one of the couples on there.... I had no idea... it its CRAZY!

    I'm coming back to read this post in full tonight and to comment, but from what I saw in the top sentence, I'm sorry Jane.... I love you and am thinking of you!

    I'll be back tonight but wanted to tell you I'm thinking of you!


    1. Aw man. I didn't know there was an addiction segment on between sessions. Bummed we missed it!

    2. Where did you see it, Jacy? BYUTV? At the chapel on the satellite broadcast? Online? Do you know what it was called or where we could access it? Do you think it's archived somewhere?

    3. Yeah- I'm totally bummed I missed that.

    4. I just found this site. We were just talking about boundaries with our therapist. What a blessing this site is! I have much reading ahead of me to see what you all have been through and what wisdom you have to offer. I too missed these segments but found the link and am watching them now. Here it is: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=296&sid=19827401&title=a-ksl-special-12-steps---the-road-to-recovery and if anyone hasn't seen this one, you should check it out. I cried as I watched it. http://www.outinthelight.com/news/2239/healing-the-broken-hearted

  2. I so needed to read #1. I feel like that all the time. Am I making it too easy? Am I done being mad? There's a piece of me that can get over it, but a (louder) piece of me that needs to teach him a lesson.

    I agree with "doing things together" hubby and I used to play A LOT of games and hike. Those are comfortable familiar happy feelings. I also just gave him a "date of the month club" as a gift for his birthday. A required date for just the 2 of us which is always something fun, not at all related to addiction or recovery is HUGE for us. Often the only time we talk, it winds up being about this and getting away from it all is good.

  3. You are such a sweetheart and so humble, Jane. Thank you for your Christlike example.

    Also, I just want to say to all you ladies out there who are working so hard with your hubbies ... hang in there. It may sound trite, but be thankful for those confessions! Not all of us are so lucky. What really got my marriage into trouble was that there never were any confessions. In ten years of marriage, and in nine years of addiction that I knew of, every single time that there were problems, whether it involved pornography or adultery or anything in between, the only reason I knew was because I caught him. In all that time, even with all the hundreds of safeguards we set, communication times we arranged, counseling sessions we went to, bishop's interviews, date nights, deep talks, probing conversations, etc., etc. (you get the picture) it just never panned out. Deceit replaced honesty in our relationship. Silence was what did us in. So as maddening as it seems to have to deal with the slip-ups, be thankful you know. Because at least for me, not knowing was worse.

    1. Here, here Angel!

      Jane is so marvelous, isn't she?

      I too was victim to the silence. That is what killed our marriage. The acts he preformed were horrific, yes, but the SILENCE was what put the nail in the coffin. It just kept getting worse and worse, day after day, week by week, new information would unfold... years and years of addiction was summed in 6 short weeks for me and I'm certain I still don't know it all.

      I admire your patience, strong will and understanding Jane. You are so very beautiful, inside and out.

      Thinking of you!

    2. Agreed, Angel! My husband has brought up a slip-up on his own once. ONCE in 8 years. It hasn't gone anywhere near infidelity, but I feel you. It's hard to trust when there has been so much lying.

    3. It's true- gratitude is healing. I am sorry for the not-knowing, I know that is a few suitcases of baggage itself.

  4. I think the place I started was having love and compassion for my husband. Jane--I think you and I have talked about this a bit. I had this thought that I didn't deserve this in my life, and then it hit me that neither did he. He made some mistakes when he was younger and had no idea that he was susceptible to addiction. I'm sure he has plenty of friends who moved past this with no problem whatsoever. I realized he didn't want it to destroy his life and marriage and family either. After that I had more compassion for him, and that led to me wanting to show him that I loved him and cared for him. As I put forth that effort, he responded really well and our relationship has gotten better.

    1. Yeah- when you see someone as they really are, not just how they are to YOU, you can't help but love them. And although that might be a different love than a romantic love, it's a good place to start.