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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Long Distance Trust

Written by  Naomi Baum, PhD.

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

I've been married five years. My husband and I have three kids together and one from a previous relationship. From the beginning I have had trouble expressing my feelings toward my husband. I've always loved him but he says I 'm not loving and compassionate enough. The beginning of 1999 he had to work out of the country for six months When he returned he accused me of cheating, because I went out with friends more than usual. He was very angry. It was something I never seen before, but we worked that out. He had to leave a second time and the first month he was gone he was ready to end our relationship because he couldn't trust me. I don't know how to express myself without screaming and he can't take it anymore. I want our marriage to work but how do I gain my husband's trust back and how do I stop him from accusing me? What steps would I take to be able to communicate with him and open up to him like he does with me?

Long Distance Trust

ADear Long Distance,

You bring up a few painful issues in your letter. First is the issue of trust, and second is the issue of your so-called inability to express love and compassion - your "passion gap." The two issues may be connected.

When your husband is with you, he complains that you are not loving enough. One of the things that we have learned from biological research is that many couples have different levels of desire that are probably regulated not by communications skills, love or anything but simple chemistry. Apparently, testosterone, a hormone that is found in both men and women, is that chemical. There are both men and women with high and low T-levels.

The problems surface when the excitement and passion of a new relationship wear off (within a few months to a year or two) and a couple finds that one of them is high T and the other is low T. This natural phenomenon can create a great deal of pain and conflict in their relationship. For example, when one member of the couple is looking for sex and is turned down by the other, he feels a lack of love, compassion and intimacy. This often starts a downward cycle that accelerates and leads to communication difficulties, problems in the bedroom and finally a lack of trust and intimacy.

So where does that leave you? Educating both of yourselves about this can be very helpful. Learning to talk about what you each want from each other, without blame and reproach can be difficult but rewarding.

Long periods apart can be especially trying to a marital relationship. It can lead to feelings of loneliness, suspicion and jealousy. There are undoubtedly temptations for both of you that you have to struggle to avoid. These fears and unmet needs can lead to conflict and mistrust. Talking about your feelings with each other during these long periods of separation might be helpful.

You need to feel comfortable with your behavior, and be able to live honestly with yourself. You cannot control what your husband thinks and does. Rather than focusing on earning his trust, you might put your energies into communicating with him and discussing with him your feelings. If you feel threatened by doing it face- to- face, or if you try a face to face discussion, it deteriorates into a yelling match, you might try letter writing. Often, writing a letter is a lot easier and less scary, and allows you to complete your thoughts without getting cut off. Since your husband is often overseas, letter writing would be quite natural. However, even if he is at home, as a start you might find that writing to him might work better for you. Your letter might prove to be the springboard to fruitful, calmer discussions.

Good Luck!

Naomi L. Baum, PhD.

Last modified on Thursday, 12 January 2012 14:04
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Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum is the Director of the Resilience Unit at The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma and the National School Resilience Project. Her work at ICTP focuses on developing programs to build resilience in communities that have been highly exposed to trauma and stress. She has successfully brought her approach to Biloxi, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her work there included seven visits to the city, she trained teachers, social workers, school nurses, and counselors. She has also worked with the population in Haiti following teh earthquake. She has written about Trauma and Resilience in several published articles and books.

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