Being married is rarely described as being easy. We’re told you have to work at the relationship. But when a marriage is predominantly difficult, “working at it” shifts to coping with your marriage:
It was a very difficult marriage and I coped by being pretty closed off. Certainly emotionally closed off but sexually closed off as well. ~ Cathy
Cathy was with her husband for 29 years. She says it was always a difficult marriage and over the years she built a cocoon to protect herself. The years following her divorce were a period of joyous personal rediscovery including finding her ‘pilot light lover.’
The Divorce Coach Says
Closing down and withdrawing is definitely a coping mechanism. How that looks in practical, everyday terms may differ from person to person. It might mean avoiding physical contact, it might mean enduring physical contact, it might mean avoiding confrontation and disagreements, it might mean avoiding most social interaction.
It’s about doing what you have to do to keep up the appearance of your marriage or the functioning of your home because you haven’t yet reached the stage of seeing divorce as a feasible option.
Closing down may be an effective short term survival strategy but in my view it doesn’t work and nor is it healthy in the long run. Over time you start to close down more and it isn’t limited to just your spouse. As the marriage becomes increasingly difficult, you start to withdraw from socializing with friends, there’s less and less to talk about. It may spill over into your workplace. Your range of emotions narrows so not only do you not feel the depths of pain and sadness but the highs of joy and pleasure are also gone.
The longer you keep coping, the more closed off you’ll become and the further away you drift from your authentic self. You find yourself going through the motions of life.
With the end of your marriage comes the opportunity to open up again but that’s risky. It means allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Are you ready for that?