Update: “Deprived Newlywed” Responds

updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Deprived Newlywed” (LW2) who wrote in a couple weeks ago seeking advice on how to deal with her sexual frustration in her brand new marriage. Her update below:

I thought I’d give you an update! Since I last wrote in, things have been overall pretty solid between my husband and myself. We’ve had a lot more relaxed, fun sex and he’s been working towards being spontaneous and overall kinder. We’re still working to set up a therapy appointment as I think he truly realizes that the current way of arguing is too destructive (on both our ends) and unsustainable. In terms of the actual advice: I think I wrote in for advice when I was still heated and intentionally glossed over my own heated ugly comments and only laid out his own. So, knowing that, it was kind of jarring to see your call for divorce and/or cutting out family making. I obviously didn’t go down that road (two months into being married!) but it weirdly helped me realize that when I was only mulling over my point of view and ignoring his, of course I’d hold onto anger and resentment. Being fair in my approach helped me to put some perspective into this mix. Crossing my fingers that sinking more work into our relationship keeps us happy and healthy.

Hope you’re well – I love your work!

Glad things are better and I hope you do find a good therapist soon. I also hope that if you read your letter back, you can see why a reader might think staying in this marriage – even/especially a brand new one – might not be for the best. I found his calling you a slut (for wanting sex with your new husband!), along with some of the other descriptions of his treatment toward you very disturbing. I responded how I’d want to respond to a close friend telling me these things, but only the people in a relationship know what is really going on, and you know your husband’s heart. I hope the name-calling and the gaslighting was an anomaly and your communication smooths out. I still would put the baby-making on hold until you feel super stable in your marriage though.

UPDATE: The LW’s husband has commented here.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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  1. Yeeeaahhh… when you are having heated, ugly fights with name-calling and gaslighting in a marriage, especially just a few months into being married, something is very wrong. Absolutely DO NOT bring a baby into your marriage unless and until you have sought counseling and learned to communicate without ugliness. Babies and children can strain even the most healthy relationships. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years, married 10 years next year, we have a 6-year-old, and have dealt with our typical share of stress, illness, and loss. We’ve never once had a screaming fight or called each other names. If my husband said what yours did, I’d immediately get him to the doctor to check for a brain tumor (not kidding). That’s not normal or acceptable behavior in a marriage.

  2. anonymousse says:

    I knew this update was going to be a “we had one brief conversation, but everything’s 100% better now!”

    It s a huge red flag that he’s controlling when and how you have sex and calling you a slut for attempting to initiate sex.

    Yes, go to therapy and couples counseling, but do not stop using birth control and protection until you have both figured out how to communicate in a healthy way.

    My husband and I never yell and call each other names like that. It’s disturbing that you think that’s okay or normal just because you apparently were also cruel during your argument. This is not normal for a new marriage. It’s abusive at worse and dysfunctional at best.

  3. I am sorry to say I was in this relationship for 20 years. The gaslighting and mental manipulation is so good, that you don’t know what hit you. You think that, of course it was partly your fault. You just weren’t seeing things his way. Let me tell you now, and save you a lifetime of pain. This is bullshit. He is snowing you under, and soon you will be so far gone, that everytime he calls you a slut, it seems reasonable and normal. Now that I am out, I can tell you THIS IS NOT HOW GOOD, NORMAL RELATIONSHIPS WORK! Maybe you can help it with therapy, but I doubt it. This dude sounds like mine, bad news, but so, so good at covering it up. Best of luck to you.

  4. Sea Witch says:

    One thing that got repeated several times in the original letter was the confusing “Stop putting too much pressure on me/You aren’t trying hard enough” arguments by the husband. So which is it – is she not trying hard enough when she puts on lingerie and tries to initiate, or is she trying too hard and putting pressure on him?

    He’s moving the goalposts and constantly changing the rules so that she can never win, no matter what she does or how hard she tries.

    Yes, it’s “jarring” to be told that the brand new spouse that you married just 2 months ago is showing disturbing behaviour and maybe you shouldn’t try to make a new human with him. But better now than after you’re legally tied to him for 18 years by a baby.

  5. So, I do get not wanting to get divorced a few months after your wedding, no matter how objectively bad your marriage is. Pride is a strong thing. But, LW, if you take any of the advice you were given – DO NOT have a child with this man.

    If the best you can come up with in response to multiple people telling you this marriage is fucked up is to justify that it’s okay that your husband calls you a slut because you want to have sex with him because you say shitty things to him, too, and then you have a period of happy-happy and make-up sex, I mean…you know this is not okay. You know that. Do what you need to do to accept it. Go to counseling. Try to make it better. Waste years you’ll never get back. Whatever. It’s your life and they’re your mistakes to make. But do not be so selfish as to bring a child into this mess. A baby won’t make this better.

  6. I’m here 21 years from the future to tell the LW to act with an abundance of caution. I have a five inch scar on my elbow that until a couple of years ago, I would have told you was all my fault or at least partially so. Please see counseling not only couples’, but on your own as well so that you can have a long form conversation about how you guys are mediating differences.

  7. You badly need to get into couples’ therapy, LW. Otherwise this isn’t going to work. What you reported that he said and did was awful. That you think you were almost equally awful doesn’t increase the odds of your marriage succeeding, it just means both spouses, rather than just one, is fucking up the marriage. There will never be an easier/better time to end this manage, so definitely don’t dawdle on finding the therapist and work hard and quickly on trying to improve your marriage. I don’t think your odds are great. Definitely don’t get pregnant until you are certain the counseling and your mutual practice of healthy communication and behavior have repaired your manage. Wait a year once you think you have reached that point to make sure the improvement you think you see is real and lasting.

  8. LadyPants says:

    I’m sorry for your situation. He’s not a “piece of meat.” He’s your life partner. Don’t tolerate anyone calling you a slut. That’s indicative of a seriously misguided outlook towards women. Loving your husband physically has never qualified anyone as a “slut,” which is typically a sexist slur. I hope he doesn’t start acting out his disdain for you and your gender in other ways than verbally. Believing in and expressing to you his conviction is wrong. Don’t believe it. You’re not a slut, you’re a loving wife and he KNOWS the difference. He for some reason wants you to believe that you ARE a slut. (You know you’re not.) It’s time to ask yourself exactly why this attack on your self-esteem is a priority for your husband. I hope he gets it together and starts respecting you and your body.

  9. I would take this less than two week period of things being “good” very cautiously. I’ve been with my husband going on 10 years (married 7.5), and he has never once called me a name. Our marriage is by no means perfect, but I can honestly tell you that we’ve never once had a shouting match like you describe. We have mutual respect, and we do our very best to handle disputes accordingly.

    Now I will say that in my past, I had a controlling, awful boyfriend that sounds very much like what you described in your first letter. Constant goalpost moving, nasty arguments, calling me names, etc. He also used sex as a weapon and would try his best to slut shame me for wanting sexual contact with him. There would be a nasty fight over something very ridiculous (typically when his ego felt threatened), I would grovel with apologies, and then things would be “great” for a period of weeks. It was never great. It was a year and a half of walking on eggshells waiting for the next explosion. He was never physically threatening, but his mental abuse was just terrible. I couldn’t even see it was happening since I was so busy trying to keep the peace – it took several people who witnessed his behavior to finally FINALLY take off the blinders. I ended up realizing that I didn’t even like him! I spent so much time defending myself and trying to make sure he liked me that I skipped past that whole part of things.

    My point is – sometimes it is hard to know when your relationship is bad unless you get some perspective from outsiders (comments here?), but when the relationship is functioning in a healthy manner, you will definitely know it. I get the whole, it’s only been two months of marriage, I have to make it work. But, look up the whole “fallacy of sunk costs” theory. If you try therapy and it doesn’t work, move on. Things like this typically do NOT get better.

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