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‘How can I talk to my husband about a very painful issue from my past?’

‘How can I talk to my husband about a very painful issue from my past?’

Jasmine was raped as a teenager and hasn’t opened up about the experience to her husband. She loves her husband and wants to move her life and marriage past this emotional trauma. Years of therapy have helped her deal with the pain of the experience, but it hasn’t gotten her to the point of being able to talk about it with her husband.

My advice:

Jasmine, you were raped when you were 17, and you’re 42 now. You’ve been dreaming about the experience, having flashbacks, and even with years of therapy things aren’t really resolved. That’s understandable because rape can be one of the most traumatic violations a woman can experience. And I know that talking about what happened can be traumatic in itself — but I think that’s what you need to find the courage to do now.

Your husband apparently knew about your experience, but you haven’t opened up to him about the details. That prevents Barry from fully understanding what you went through and why you might still be suffering aftershocks 25 years later. Telling Barry everything about this incident will allow him to really be there for you, and to support you while you deal with this trauma in therapy and your daily life.

Barry: I know you want to respect your wife’s privacy, but at this point I think it’s time to gently pry. Her pain obviously hasn’t been going away during these years. The only way things are going to begin to change is if you create an atmosphere of total love and support so that your wife will feel safe and secure in sharing this very personal episode from her life.

You two love each other, but this thing has become a toxic secret that will continue to erode your relationship until it is neutralized by open communication. Speaking about this trauma and trusting each other that you’ll make it through this process in a positive and healthy way, is critical if your marriage is going to weather this storm. Working on this together and improving your relationship will also indirectly benefit your children because you’ll be healthier, happier parents.

I recommend that you go to therapy together. Barry is a thoughtful, caring individual, and you two have been with each other for 15 years. Going to therapy together will allow you both to explore this issue in a safe and healthy environment. This incident doesn’t have to get in the way of you two building many more years of love and commitment together. But if this is not dealt with, I fear it could end your marriage. So treat this with the level of seriousness it deserves, and I promise you two will be able to put this pain behind you.

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