Divorce & Breakups Community
1.47k Members
16671331 tn?1450541330

I've scared her, now what?

My wife and I have been married for 25 years , high school sweet hearts.  Recently I've noticed there had been a growing distance between us,  nothing mean,  just not as close.  Turns out this is the result of years of her feeling the negativity from my depression and self esteem issues.  It's not what I was thinking,  that she was seeing somebody else.  

So enter the incident.  Our garage door had broken and was in danger of falling.  I was trying to cut the cable to release where we could lower it,  and I was telling her to hold her side up a little higher so I could get it released.  This was very stressful, as I was thinking about it falling on us, the car etc. I know I was talking forcefully and with urgency in my voice.  She said stop yelling at me in trying.  This is where the vision of her with somebody else,  and us never really ever having a real fight off any kind in our 25 years together.  Sure we nagged at each other about little crap from time to time,  but never a screaming angry fight.  All I could think and said was "I'm not yelling at you,  THIS is yelling".  That 1 word as loud as I could. This shook her to her core.  I never cane at her, or touched her violently.  I would never do that,  I love her deeply.  I've always been strongly against violence toward women, something she loved me for.  But in this 1 moment,  with this 1 word, I shattered that. She said she doesn't feel safe now.  Didn't know if she loves me.  This has been 3 weeks of the worst hell I've ever felt.  I'm seeing a therapist,  and I've asked that she come with me.  She's timid about it though.  Just last night, after 3 weeks, she finally told me what has scared her.  So I guess that's progress.  I apologized that night for yelling,  she nodded.  I had no idea she was hurt so badly by my outburst.  I never had any intention of violence,  I knew exactly what I was doing.  I was screaming out in protest because I thought she was cheating.  She was never in any danger from me.  Danger is what she felt though.

So how can I get her to see that the person she fell in love with is still right here? She doesn't have to be afraid that if I lose my temper, that I could be like that again. I have another therapy session tomorrow,  and after management is on the agenda.  But her being scared is not something I can fix.
8 Responses
973741 tn?1342346373
Hi.  No, this doesn't sound right.  In all your years you yell ONE word at her in the heat of the moment and she's afraid of you?  Overreaction on her part.  Or an excuse to have more distance.  Any way she'd go to marriage counseling with you?  I think something sounds wrong here---  this was not a super scary moment.  While fixing a garage door you yelled THIS when she acused you of yelling.  I get that your tone was maybe a little short and abrasive. But this does not warrant fear.  

I think she is blowing this out of proportion and I would not buy into that.  good luck
16671331 tn?1450541330
We had a big talk just now.  She says that over the years there's just been a lot of times when she was hurt and sad and didn't say anything,  let it harden her heart and this was the final blow.  I've let complacency and negativity drove her to where she's not in love with me anymore.  I've been, in the last 2 weeks trying to make myself a better person for her and myself.  But I fear is to late.

She's been looking at apartments.  I asked that she not leave our home.  For her to see a counselor and work on her like she says,  and I'll see mine.  And during this time for us to treat each other like we want to be treated and try to spend little times like going for walks or whatever, trying to get to know each other again.

I'm hopeful , but she's got a lot of old hurt in there.  I fear I've lost her.
134578 tn?1546634665
It sounds like what she said, a cumulative effect.  When my husband goes through a grumpy spate, every dang thing he says has some kind of hidden emotional weight, he's mad, he's mad, he's mad.  He could say "Would you please pass the butter?" and I could tell by his tone that he's mad, even if he was not being sarcastic there would be the absence of lightness and friendliness and cheerfulness in his tone in making the random request.  She is probably tired of the elephant in the room and doesn't think things can change.

If she stays, that's fine, but if she goes to her own apartment that does not mean that the two of you are over.  (Unless, of course, she notices how fun it is not to have to worry about your moods any more.)  What I'm saying is that you don't have to give up even if she moves out.  It might not be forever.
16671331 tn?1450541330
I'm trying to make those changes in myself.  Our daughters are catching the negativity too,  and that's unacceptable to me.  I want to be that happy  person she looks forward to seeing,  not a cause of anxiety when she's in her own home.  She said she doesn't know how or when she got to this place.  She just woke up 1 morning and it didn't hurt anymore.  That there was a slow leak in her cup and found that is just now empty.  She doesn't think she has any energy left to work on us,  and isn't site is with the effort.  She's not the same person she was when she fell in love with me,  and this new person I'm  trying to be is the husband she always wanted.  it's like I'm asking her to be in a relationship with someone she doesn't know. I'm so lost,  our life, our family,  everything I know it's been flipped on its head.  I'm wracking my mind and heart trying to think of what to do.  

"that ring is just a piece of jewelry without love behind it "

It's not just a piece of jewelry,  it's a promise.  I'm crushed into powder.  She's still being nice,  hugging me for comfort,  sleeping in our bed.

Hoping for a miracle...
134578 tn?1546634665
The ring was a promise to marry the man who wasn't angry all the time, I think.  She can't be held to staying with someone who is not the person she married.

It seems like your big motivator now is being scared of losing her.  But it seems like you were trying to test her all the time, by being angry and not putting a brake on it.   If she had not said anything to you, would you have stopped or would you have just gone on in the same way?  Being scared is a useful way to motivate yourself, but changing permanently from an angry person who acts out to a different, happy person who is nice to be around is not just a matter of behavior but also of internal change.  Glad you're seeing a therapist.  Whether or not your marriage can be saved, anywhere is a better place than where you have been.
You're right,  I mean is not like I was yelling all the time,  but agitated ... Ya know?  Life is stressful,  being a paramedic ads to that.  I'm trying.  I'm doing everything I can do,  it's up to her,  it always was.
134578 tn?1546634665
It's up to you, also.  You know the old joke about how many therapists it takes to change a light bulb?  Only one, but the light bulb has really gotta want to change.  I am wondering if you would really have wanted to change if it had not cost you this valued relationship.  You really gotta want to change.  What about a different job?  Or do you like the adrenaline you get as an EMT?
No,  I wouldn't have changed.  Because I didn't know how much of a problem if really was.  Our communication evidently sucked.  She felt like she couldn't talk to me because she's afraid of conflict.  So she bottled stuff up for years that should've come out.  The sorrow  I feel is a much for knowing I hurt her and that she felt she couldn't talk to me,  he supposed to be closest friend.  I know she's grown up into who she is now,  I'm growing too. And the job is more stressful for me due to the shift,  the time I'm  away.  
I'll just volunteer this, it's kind of a form of self-indulgence when someone simply shoots off their mouth and faunches around the house with attitude.  There is a sense of entitlement there and no thought for (or awareness of) the impact on others, which most people do care about and watch their impact on others, especially those who they love most.  I know you would resist this characterization by saying you have pain, etc., but most people with even justified reasons to be upset and with pain, still know that one does not take one's inner demons out on people close to them, and act to refrain from doing so, often by gently talking to their spouse about their problems and trying to work them out rather than take them out of others.  It is very hard to be the caring spouse of someone who thinks he has the right to carry negative moods home and be unpleasant. The wife winds up carrying pain and dismay in her stomach all the time, and often also has to try to make it up to the kids.  After a while, it can just be too much, too hard, and finally cause anger in the spouse as to why she has to do this all the time.  I have read that people who take things out on their spouses do it as a subconscious way to test the spouse, to see if the spouse really loves them.  Don't know about this, it doesn't seem totally logical to me because why would someone want to risk driving away the person they love the most?  But maybe in the scenario described, the person just can't help it.   If this rings a bell for you,  it might be one to talk to the therapist about.

Anyway, good luck on your path.  I think it will take bravery but it doesn't sound like you lack bravery.  You might lose your wife, but at least you can find yourself.
I'm actually working on getting my nursing degree.  So I'm moving in the direction of another job.  I'm doing some heavy duty self examination.  I want to be that person she feels good to see.  I'm writing through a lot of old insecurities and self esteem issues that have caused a lot of narsasitic behaviors.  
What you said is spot on.  I used to tell her she was to good for me.  Testing her love one way or another.  I was risking her love,  maybe I felt I didn't deserve it,  maybe trying to fend off my fear  of abandonment.  In any case,  I guess she finally believed she was too good for me after all.
134578 tn?1546634665
Or, she was just worn out.
I don't blame her for that.  I'm seeing all the ways I've put her where she is.  I'm just hoping that maybe I can show her that I've learned, and realize the harm that words have,  no matter their intention.  I love her more than I can even express.  I want to spend the rest of my life with her and making it up to her. I just hope it's not too late.
16671331 tn?1450541330
So, update.  It's now mid January,  and we've both been to a few individual counseling sessions.  We've been out a few times, and are talking.  It's really good to talk with her.  It seems we had really stopped doing that.  I've read a book "I love you but I'm not in love with you", it's really good.  Lots of ideas of how to start to break down the barriers.  It's got stuff to address the 1 who's been told that, and the 1 who's said it.  Some exercises to start to unearth the problems and miscommunication that had been poisoning the relationship.  I've learned a lot of what she was hurt by.  I also learned that some of what I said to try to build her up,  was taken in the complete opposite way through the years.  She has begun to see how avoiding conflict and saying what she feels has led her to where she is.  It's been a journey of 2 people,  each adding and taking away from our love.  I didn't add enough,  that's for sure.

She says we're like, on our first dates again.  Timid,  cautious,  taking it slow.  I'll take that for sure.  It's still frustrating sometimes,  because I just want to be all in with her.  That'll take time though.  So I'll just keep loving her,  and trying in new ways to show her every day.  

Now I have to hope she checks my box,  abs LIKE LIKES me all over again.
Have an Answer?
Top Relationships Answerers
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
How do you keep things safer between the sheets? We explore your options.
Can HIV be transmitted through this sexual activity? Dr. Jose Gonzalez-Garcia answers this commonly-asked question.
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.
How to lower your heart attack risk.
Trying to lose weight? Grab a snack that works with your diet, not against it. Check out these delicious, slimming foods.
Trying to lose weight? Grab a snack that works with your diet, not against it. Check out these delicious, slimming foods.