My discomfort with intimacy is pushing my husband away

I have been married for five years. During that time my husband has been loving, open, giving, and selfless; I have abused him through lying, manipulation, and selfishness. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and as an adult I am now recreating that situation in my marriage. My husband has tried to help me heal and grow past my issues and though I talk the talk, I do not take action because of fears and taking the easy way out (as soon as there is closeness between us, I stop giving). I have used giving to him as a way to manipulate closeness and avoid the issues between us so we are now in a state where he will not accept "gifts" (touch, talk, dinner, etc) from me because he no longer trusts me.

I do not want to lose my marriage and I am ready to do whatever it takes to save it. I don’t want to just talk, but also take action, however I don’t know what to do. I would appreciate advice on two topics: 1) I need to rebuild the broken trust between us; and 2) I need to make right the pain and suffering I cause him, like his intense loneliness at being in a relationship where the person who is supposed to love him is selfish, uses him, and acts as if she doesn’t care to know him.

As I said, I cannot just give to him because of my lies and abuse, there must be in-between steps, but I don’t know what they are. We both love each other very much and want to make this work, but I don’t know what to do. last night he confessed how much pain he is carrying beyond the broken trust because of his loneliness and I didn’t know what to do—I reached out to hug him, but he didn’t want me to because all of my actions seem insincere now. Please help me save my marriage.


Saving your marriage will not be easy because most people desire a close, emotional connection with their spouse. And from your question, it sounds like you have been unable to provide that type of intimacy with your husband. So, it is not unusual for someone in your husband’s position to feel frustrated, isolated and lonely. And it may be very difficult to earn back your husband’s trust because he probably knows that you are not emotionally capable of giving him what he wants.

While you say that you want to save your marriage, to do so, you are going to have to make a fundamental change in how you deal with issues of intimacy and closeness. Given your past, however, this may not be easy for you to do. In all likelihood, your discomfort with intimacy overrides your concern for your husband’s needs. Until you solve this fundamental problem, it is unlikely that the dynamics between you and your husband will change.

Changing one’s fundamental level of comfort with intimacy is not easy (see dismissing attachment). Doing so often requires extensive counseling and a supportive spouse. So, our best advice is to seek out a therapist who can help you focus on the real issue—your discomfort with closeness (see counseling resources). Rebuilding trust will only be possible once that issue has been addressed.

We wish we had more encouraging advice to offer.

 dismissing attachment | end of relationship | save relationship | troubled relationship

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