Man’s history as abuse victim impacts marriage

Published 8:17 am Wednesday, June 22, 2022

DEAR ABBY: My husband was forced into sex at the age of 12 by an older female. He has expressed how humiliated he felt and that he made it his mission to never feel inadequate again. He gets his “knowledge” of satisfying a woman through porn. I have tried to explain to him that what he’s seeing is only a performance put on for the male viewer.
I have tried more than once to show him what really makes a woman “tick,” but he insists I don’t know what I’m talking about and that I’m lying to him! I have tried every gentle approach to avoid hurting his feelings. I know from family members’ comments about his bedroom having been a “revolving door” for women that he probably didn’t use much discernment in his past.
How can I move forward when I feel like he’s stuck in the past? I know being sexually abused causes all kinds of trauma. He insists he’s over it, but his actions tell me otherwise. I’m pretty sure I’m not his first unsatisfied partner because all his other relationships have ended because they were “crazy, stupid, fat, unfaithful …” I don’t want to give up on him. Please help. — PATIENT WIFE IN FLORIDA

DEAR WIFE: Talking to your husband must be like talking to a wall. Solid marriages are built on trust and good communication, and your husband seems capable of neither. I admire your perseverance. The fact that he may have never had counseling to deal with what he went through as a child is regrettable. It could help even now.
A licensed sex therapist might be able to help your husband see that you are not lying to him when you tell him that what pleases one woman might not please another. If you can’t make him understand what makes you “tick,” then cross your fingers and hope the therapist can get the message across.
DEAR ABBY: My 40-year-old nephew, “Randy,” hasn’t spoken with his sister, “Elyse,” in five years because of a disagreement about the resolution of their father’s trust. When they visited me four years ago, he wouldn’t speak to her.
Elyse and her husband later announced they were adopting a baby. Randy visited me alone six months later, and I suggested, without success, that he put this aside until after the adoption. During the adoption, she became pregnant and had a second child. Randy still hasn’t seen or talked with her or his niece and nephew. Our relationship has deteriorated since.
Randy and Elyse tried a mediator last year, again without success. (I should mention he doesn’t speak with his mother, either.) He has dodged any further discussion about the situation. I’m at a loss. We were all so close, and I miss him, but I can’t accept his actions anymore. Any suggestions? — UNCLE IN PAIN

DEAR UNCLE: In some families, blood is thicker than water. Your nephew appears to feel that money is thicker than blood. As much as you might wish to do it, you can’t change him. Because his unwillingness to relent is causing you pain, limit your interactions with him and maintain your relationship with Elyse, the children and Randy’s mother.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox