I am married to the same man for 33 years. On the very first night of our honeymoon I noticed that this man had problems with intimacy. He really feared it. We’ve managed to have two biological children and have adopted two children. My husband doesn’t like to be touched. He cringes if I put my hand on his shoulder. Recently, he has picked up an old habit that he stopped for many years…masturbating. I have walked in on him many, many times. I’ve asked him to stop. I insisted that he see a therapist which he does weekly. I can’t help feeling like I am invisible. I feel like whatever I need/needed from him doesn’t matter to him. He doesn’t drink or womanize. He goes to work everyday. I feel very guilty for hating him sometimes. Please help.

First, let me say that I admire your loyalty to your husband. You already are showing courage, patience, and forgiveness.  I suspect that something happened in your husband’s childhood or adolescence to make him cringe when touched.  He likely is classically conditioned to touch in this way.  Was there physical abuse in his past?  If so, he needs to uncover that and, if he is willing, to work on forgiving the person who damaged his ability to be close.  I would start there–with the assumption of physical abuse in his past.  Please be gentle as you bring this up because he may be in denial or have a lot of pain associated with the experience (if indeed it happened).

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness


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