How to advise a drowning person
How do you advise someone who is drowning?
You don’t. You jump in and rescue them.
When someone is drowning, giving them constructive criticism about their swimming techniques is foolish.
- First they need solid ground.
- Then they need to rest and get their wits.
- Then they need to recover and process the trauma.
- Then they need encouragent and support to feel safe swimming again.
- Then they need to actually start to swim and not drown.
- Then they need to struggle a little and realize they need help.
THEN AND ONLY THEN are they ready for advice. (Unless they actively ask for it first.)
Any earlier borders on cruel.
Before you (HS spouse) give advice to your LD spouse, maybe you need to first consider whether they are drowning first.
In my marriage, I was HD and she was overwhelmed. And the more she pulled back, the more I wanted and the more I kept asking. Viscous cycle. It got ugly.
I could have demanded she do her part and not withhold, but that would not have shepherded her heart. She would have begrudgingly given me her body, but her heart would have been cold towards me. Not any of our goals.
So instead I gave up my ‘rights’ and stopped asking for sex all together. I told her I was going to love her and support her and give her time to heal. I would loving and patciently wait for her to offer.
She needed to recover and find firm ground not demands for sex. It took many months before we got anywhere near regular sex again.
The last 2 years have been slow growth. She is beginning to enjoy love making a little. But it has been slow with many update and downs.
However, now I’m sharing little tidbits of advice every blue moon and it’s just now starting to stick a bit more. We have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction.
Hopefully that helps someone with perspective in the midst of the storm. Maybe you should first jump in and save the one you love. That may take sacrifice and selflessness. But isn’t that Christ’s example? And isn’t that what love is?
My wife can heal and has mostly healed…
@CJ – according to your own posts that is so far from the truth and it’s sad; on the other hand, it’s folly that you’d even think & then write it here after all you’ve shared.
Her fear of losing me in a divorce is minute because she would accuse me of a lack of empathy toward her as a victim. Psychological therapy, which forces many patients/clients to remember details is no better. Healing is a matter that frees the victim from the past and allows her/him to live in the present with new memories and with a secure and loyal loving husband.
Really? Psychological therapy and counseling is no better? Seriously? That is hardly fact and so far from the truth. Having a quality, trained professional would be the thing that would help the two of you. Truth, CJ, you have been a loyal husband, committed to your wife and serving her for years…but to say secure? You regularly spout off about all your insecurities and career losses, let alone your Eeyore-like attitude about life, and treating your wife’s behavior tit-for-tat is hardly the positive influence needed for change in your wife, let alone yourself.
We can all add value from sharing but at times, you seem to lecture about how right you are and how wrong every else and their situations are without seemingly making room for introspection. Every time solid advice is given around here you ignore it or down play it because you know-it-all and have all the answers. Your situation is completely different than the original post and there are deep-seeded issues in you, your wife, and marriage that you have chosen to ignore over the years and the wisdom shared here from people who want to see you and your marriage thrive as God designed.
PS – next time, CJ, please put your answer in the discussion area, not in the comments.
@c. Joseph it’s not all about you.
I’m not sure the original post was necessarily about the effects of previous abuse. It was about a spouse feeling overwhelmed and out of control when having sex. That might be as a result of abuse, but I think there can be other causes too.
The drowning analogy might work for some people/couples. But not all. So, for those for whom it works, I hope it brings hope and a path to consider for themselves.
But from what I have learned over the years on TMB, many spouses are not drowning but comfortably watching from their perch well away from the water living an ungenerous life, or on their own little island living their own self-focused life, or in their boat unwilling to truly connect with their spouse, or in the lifeguard chair officiating and gatekeeping, or adrift on their floating mattress totally unaware of what they are doing to their spouse.
Each couple needs to find out how they can best communicate with each other. Then work on their relationship and then deal with the issues in their marriage and marriage bed for those things to have a chance of not drowning.
So, I have a question: if you just stopped requesting sex, how did you prevent yourself from becoming resentful? I find that in those times when I decide just to stop asking, I then go down bad thinking paths and get angry at my DW. I am much more open to bad thoughts during those times, so I’m interested in knowing how you prevented that. Did you basically think of her as a very sick person who needed to heal? Was that enough?
@rwprice, I hope that @peachrings comes back in the near future and answers your questions from his experience and perspective. Until then, I will share a few thoughts from my experience. First, the question becomes, “Is my spouse drowning?”, and then those questions that @LuckyInLove shared could be critical on determining what next steps are appropriate to take. And as others have mentioned, there’s a difference between “drowning” and those who are complacent in sitting in their own muck and mire….that too will determine what steps are appropriate to take.
If the person is truly drowning, I do think you have to remember that this is only temporary, as you work at “rescuing” them and as they “recover and heal”. Yes, sometimes you have to look at them as a “sick”, or my preference is to say “injured” person. If they had a physical injury, like a broken femur, how quick would you expect them to get back to living and walking normally? Would you bemoan them when they can’t go run or swim with you? Would you find them a whiny fool when they shared that their leg hurts, or that they are frustrated by their limitations? A “drowning” person has internal injuries that take time to heal. Hopefully, they have the hope that they can be healed, and the desire to do what they can to find that healing.
To take it a step farther, I think you need to first figure out why the person is drowning:
Did they never take swimming lessons (no sex education)?
Did they have poor swimming lessons (bad teaching or abuse)?
Were they ok swimmers at first, but lost confidence along the way (poor self image, body issues)?
Did their swimming partner start to weigh them down (this could be anything from frequency to fetish requests)?
There’s a lot of wisdom there! I have been in that “drowning” place, so I can speak from experience. And this wisdom isn’t just for a (HD) spouse, that’s for any of us who want to just shower advice on people and tell them how to change, or that they “are wrong/sinning”, without knowing where they are at and where they are coming from.
I will add too…. if when “drowning”, the spouse isn’t the one working at “rescuing”, the recovery may take longer. The message that has been given is that we must “self-preserve”, because no one else is looking out for us. That means when “drowning” or those triggers/memories of “drowning” return, we aren’t going to be thinking of the needs of others first, we will be doing all we can to try to “keep our heads above the water.”
This is helpful for me. I don’t know about others, but I do not want to constantly talk about the lack of sex in our marriage. I would like the time and trust that I will change on my own in time if it is meant to be or my husband will learn it is not such a pressing matter. Some folks just don’t like to swim as much as others.