Q&A Does my Husband have Intimacy Issues?

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Question: 

Dear Rick, My husband and I have been diligently working on recovering from his infidelity since last May. We participated in the EMSO series; he has also taken Harboring Hope. We were in couples counseling but were terminated four weeks ago because we have not been successful in deescalating our arguments. It was an Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy model (Dr. Sue Johnson). Our counselor felt the weekly encounters were causing more harm than good. She also mentioned that, while we were only with her for 13 weeks she felt that my husband may have an intimacy disorder such as intimacy impairment. Her suggestion was for both of us to go into individual counseling, work on our personal issues, and perhaps pick up couples therapy again when we are able to support one another rather than assign blame. Currently I am doing individual counseling with a Crossroads therapist and my husband is using a life coach. She is younger and an undergrad working toward her psychotherapy degree. So she is not licensed to practice psychotherapy, nor do I 100% believe she has the wisdom or expertise to assess my husband’s attachment disorder and complex emotional underpinnings. She was invited to reach out and have a conversation with the couples therapist for her assessment since she is a seasoned therapist who has been practicing couples therapy for 18+ years, and is a certified trainer in EFT therapy. However the life coach has not seen this as necessary. She does have experience with Affair Recovery and has been mentored by some of the team at Crossroads. I am grateful because she is helpful with the unfaithful protocol and giving a second voice to my feelings as the betrayed spouse when working with my husband. My dilemma is that we are not moving forward at all. I have observed a pattern in which my husband and I get stuck inside the Protest Polka. I protest and ask for what I need and my husband does one of two behaviors – he launches his own protest and then it is up to me to fix everything because it becomes my fault. Or he launches into frustration or anger which shuts us down. I am noticing that over and over again my husband uses these two primary defenses to avoid going deeper into feelings and intimacy. Am I crazy? Could he subconsciously be using these patterns of response to avoid being intimately attached? The cycle is leaving both of us feeling unsafe. I fear reconciliation of any kind is not possible. We both need to be nurtured, soothed, heard and understood for the marriage to heal. Can you please offer some guidance with this situation? How do we pursue finding out if my husband has an intimacy issue? If that is what is holding us back from connecting I would like to know. If it’s not then I would like to know what other options we have ten-months into recovery. Thank you and God Bless.

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