My wife will not stop questioning me about a horrible incident from my past. I've answered her questions already, but she doesn't like me asking to not talk about it. Snowflakes inside.
posted by yasp to Human Relations (110 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
The history: When I was younger, there was an incident that, were the genders reversed, would be called rape. I got drunk with friends and, some time after passing out on a friend's bed, woke up to find myself being ridden, without protection, by a woman I'd met for the first time that evening, who wouldn't stop when I asked her to. Eventually I was able to push her off me. It was a very unpleasant episode, and lead to my first and only not-by-choice visit to a sexual health clinic. Luckily for me I was clean.
I'm not comfortable calling it rape, but I think that's mostly because I don't want to think of myself as a rape victim, and also because of societal, in-grained, "hey, no such thing as female-on-male rape"-y thoughts. It caused me a lot of pain for many years, and I've only recently started coming to terms with it properly. It's something that I still struggle with from time to time (As a result of this I won't drink around people I don't know very well, for example.) and it's something that I'm still working on with my therapist. So far, so good.
I'm finding it very hard, though, to deal with talking about it with my wife. She's known about this incident for a long time (we met not long after it happened). Recently, though, since I've been talking about it in therapy (I tell my wife about most things I talk about in therapy, because she hates it when I hide it from her), she's been obsessing about it. She keeps asking me questions about it and demanding details: How long did it take me to push her off? Why didn't I push her off sooner? How could I have had an erection if I was drunk? Didn't I want it, really? (the implication being that I must have.)
It's very painful for me to go over it again and again and again; I answered all of her questions in a very long, emotionally exhausting session a couple of weeks ago, but since then she keeps bringing it up, and it's tearing me apart. I feel like a fraud, like I must have wanted it, like it was my fault. Basically I feel like every time my wife starts questioning me about it I'm undoing the work I've done in therapy a little bit.
I've expressed this to her has gently as I can: "Honey, I know that this is bothering you, and I'm sorry about that, but it's really very painful for me to go over it again and again; I've answered your questions and I don't want to discuss it any more until I'm ready to, and I'm not ready to right now." However, she then tells me that I'm stonewalling by refusing to talk about it further — she often quotes Gottman and points out that stonewalling is one of the Four Horsemen of the Marriage Apocalypse. I don't feel like I am stonewalling; I've answered the questions and I don't shut myself down. I try to self-soothe, but at some point I start feeling "I can't keep doing this right now." and I ask her to stop. Sometimes I have to say "I need to take some time out right now to cool down," but then she worries that I'm going to leave her, so I almost never have the time to cool down that I need.
My wife thinks that I'm being unfair, and that this behaviour is encouraging her to be paranoid (nearly always, the day after one of these conversations, she'll go and re-read my journals to see if there's something in there about how I feel about her, or to see if I've written "the truth" about this horrible episode in my life in there. There's never anything to read I don't write in my journals any more, and I've given up trying to explain that they're private).
My wife's refusal to attend therapy sessions is well documented here on the green. I'm looking for suggestions as to ways that I could maintain my boundaries and see to my own needs without making my wife feel threatened.