I have been married for almost 6 years. We have one child together. My husband was a mess when we met: 3 children by 3 different women, 1 divorce - but I thought I could save him. (I have learned that doesn't work!) We were happily married for 3 years until he decided he wanted to start swinging and doing drugs. Of course I went along with it all; it lasted 8 months. That was 1 1/2 years ago. I hated him for putting me through all of that.
We have seperated 3 times in the past year because of anger and trust issues. Now I have filed for a divorce (we have been apart for 2 months). I started dating and single guys my age just want to party and seem to only want sex. I do want a family life and my husband has undergone major changes - I don't feel at all that he will cheat - he seems to be a NEW man. I have talked about working it out and we have been seeing each other. But when I am with him I start getting panic attacks - I can't breathe. I don't know if this is a good move. I grew up in a home filled with love, but can't stand it when he is overly romantic (as he has been the past couple of weeks). With all these past issues can this marriage be saved?
Do I just want this marriage because I want the family life or am I here because I love him? I don't want to go through another seperation again and I certainly don't want to JUST settle for him. But I'm scared that I may not find another man that will respect me and treat me the same way he is at this moment.
I am sorry that your marriage has been so difficult. Anyone who decides to commit themselves to another has tremendous hopes for married life and when it falls short of those goals, it can really hurt.
It sounds as if you have learned some hard lessons that really should have been taught by our society in school. We spend a great deal of much needed time and effort teaching the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but almost no time at all on social skills, negotiating, and partnership skills. Because of this young couples make many mistakes that need never occur. It is very common for people to try and save their partners and yes you are right - it never works.
You say that he has changed and I certainly hope that you are right, especially since there are children that are involved. However, make sure that his changes are really permanent before making any decision. People might obtain motivation immediately, but for real change to occur hard work, time, and obtaining qualified help is necessary. I would recommend that he go through a substance abuse inpatient or outpatient program based on the severity of his abuse pattern. Since you were using as well it would make sense for you to do the same. Afterwards, I would strongly recommend some marriage counseling before you get back together.
As to your symptoms of panic there are two possibilities that I see. The first is that you are having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms as your body and subconscious remembers his past abuse. The other is that subconsciously you might be more comfortable with a relationship that is more superficial. Although most people want intimacy they also are often afraid to receive it and therefore, choose people who can't get close, such as someone who abuses chemicals. I would suggest evaluating this with a therapist.
I wish you the best.
Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT
This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.
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