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Relationship Trauma - Dealing with Extreme Projection



New member
Sep 24, 2016

My story is complicated so I will try and keep it as high level as possible. I've been married to my wife for a good 4 years. It was a solid, wholesome relationship filled with love, dreams and hope. She did confide to me in the beginning that she had experienced sexual abuse as a child by her mother's boyfriends and her father between the ages of 6 and 11. Her mother also abandoned her in her teen years (she lived with friends). Our intimacy was amazing in the beginning and we have a beautiful child together. My wife has the kindest heart and she has loved me like no other and vice versa. I've put my heart and soul into this relationship too like never before. It was like a dream come true. Yes we had normal marital problems and none of us are perfect but that's life right?

6 months ago she become less interested in intimacy and then 3 months ago she had a "breakdown" after consuming some alcohol. She was having nightmares about the abuse and was having anxiety attacks. Trauma had obviously resurfaced and had been triggered along the way to the point of breakdown. I'm not sure what the triggers were but it could be a whole range of things. She then agreed to go to counselling however through the process her behaviour changed, somewhat to that of a person having an affair (happy and content, secretive) while completely cutting me out. I wanted to know what was going on.

After many days of prompting she told me she no longer loves me and is no longer interested in me. This is something I never expected coming from her. It was a complete shock. The amount of hate and anger she has towards me is both bizarre and confusing. The level of hate she has for me is huge. The list of things she gives as reasons for wanting a divorce now seem completely blown out of proportion and without merit. For instance saying that I was not there to support her however I've been there every step of the way in every way. Citing that I'm a bad father yet prior to her breakdown I was the greatest father. Saying that she found someone else sexually attractive while not finding me that way anymore. Making up a story she slept with someone else, convinced me then retracted and got angry at me for believing it. Saying that I do nothing to help yet 80% of the time I help out with domestic chores. There are many other examples but they are so out of the water that I'm too embarrassed to list them here. When she is in my space it is as if I don't recognise her anymore. It's as if she has changed into this monster. Yet when she is around our child or her friends or when she is talking to people on the phone she is exactly who she was before. The most loving, caring person that I know.

I'm so confused and hurt. I never thought this beautiful soul would ever speak these words about me, to me and to other people. I love her so much and have spoken to my own counseller who recommends we get her into a programme for sexual abuse to do a holistic approach, (therapy, group stuff, meds, psychiatry etc). I've arranged such a programme however she will not go. It made it even worse that I suggested it. As far as she is concerned the 4 counselling sessions she's gone to are sufficient and she's happy to go on with her life. This is from someone who thought the world of me 4 months ago.

No matter how I approach her, whether I am kind and soft toned (to her that is shouting) or if I leave her alone (she says I abandon her), no matter how much I pour out my heart, she feels nothing. I know my wife and this is not her. Is it projection in an extreme version?

How do I get her the help she needs when she sees me as the enemy?
I can't even count on her family or friends as she has painted me black already. The people that know me are the only ones who support me.
Is there a way to deflect the projection or divert it?
How can I get through to her? Are there any techniques?

Can anyone give me some guidance. I feel like I've lost her already and I'm desperate.

I want my wife back.

Additional Info:

she rarely drinks. Occasionally will have a glass of wine, maybe once every two weeks. I tried to address her complaints. Most of the complaints relate to how I reacted in certain situations, like when she was feeling depressed, if I tried to help or motivate or encourage she would say it wasn't enough. She would say she would be motivated for an hour and then go back into depression. I tried hard for many months, sometimes I gave her space, but that was also a complaint. When I initially used to suggest therapy or some outside help she would get angry and say she's not depressed. So no matter which direction I took it wasn't good enough. Other complaints would be that I didn't help her with her problems, but I'm paying off a $15 000 debt related to a property she inherited (estate duty shortfall), I pay what I can towards her other stuff but I only have so much resources - usually debt that was made through her bad choices (buying things of low priority while ignoring the high priority stuff). However I always had a plan and all she had to do was be patient. I am not without fault, when the intimacy started to fade I would get confused and frustrated and wondered if it was me, but she always said I must never take it personal, but I always had this gut feeling, so I would bring it up now and again and that annoyed her and made her more angry and resentful. I guess I should have been more patient too, but hey, gut feelings don't go away and they follow you everywhere.

I think it will be useful to provide a little detail after she had that breakdown. Her behaviour changed a lot that I thought she was cheating. At first she seemed very content and happy and listening to music on the earphones all day. Listening to the music and smiling and singing along. She never did this before. Walking around the house doing work and working on laptop. Keep in mind this is after she tells me she doesnt love me anymore. So this behaviour seemed odd. Surely this would be a hard time for her too? That gut feeling was still there. She then cut me out from everything. Nice to everyone else except me. It's like this didn't affect her at all. So here I am broken, and she's like carrying on all happy and content. Then when I approached her to ask her what's going on she became more secretive. So I started to snoop around. I occasionally checked her phone. I noticed that all her apps were always logged in except Snapchat. Snapchat never used to be logged out. So when I just ran it by her one day she said it's because Snapchat drains the battery. That didn't make sense to me. That's when I knew she was hiding something. I don't feel good about doing that, but I wasn't getting anywhere by talking to her.

Anyway, after a week or so we were driving and I asked her to be straight with me. I said we have a child together and 4 years of amazing marriage, so just clean the slate and tell me. She responded by saying that I'm the kind of person who would take it out on my son. First of all, I would never hurt my child so that was a shocker. But what was more telling is that she said that. Why say that if you have nothing to hide. That's when I suspected there must be something that she probably has to say. Later that night I sat next to her on the porch and we talked person to person and I asked her to be honest. That's when she told me about that story where she slept with someone when she visited her mother for a week (when I was studying for my post grad exams) - the story she retracted later on and got angry at me believing it. Later on she admitted she was sexually attracted to the neighbours boyfriend. She said "was", but is no longer. This is after she tells me the reason why she can no longer be intimate with me is because she has this trauma (which I believe) yet she was attracted to someone else. Hence my initial confusion. She also admitted the next day that she was having an "emotional" interaction with another guy (who she knows from a company she went on courses on) on Snapchat and that's the reason why she logged out all the time. Thereafter she locked her phone. About a week later she said this wasn't happening anymore.

Then about 3 weeks ago she said she wants to try and make this work (between us). We were going to her mother for the weekend a few days later. So one day we went to a store and I thought she was buying herself something but she actually bought me a gift. She bought me a few gifts on those days. She was also loving (putting hand on my lap while we drive), kissing me goodbye, holding hands in the shop. Would send me hearts on Whatsapp. Just as she was before this all went down. When we were at her mother on the weekend it was okay and we were playful around each other. Then when I tried to kiss her on the Saturday night and I felt I wanted to get initimate she said no and then I retreated. So I went to go sit somewhere to have a smoke and then she looked at me and said she can't do this anymore (apparently because I was licking my wounds). I don't know if she was being nice to me just so we could get to her mother on the weekend (she stays about 150 km away).

A few other things to mention. She mentioned once or twice that the neighbour is in love with me. Highly unlikely. During this period she has said a few times I must go and get my sexual fix with the neighbour. These are hurtful and shocking words for me to hear coming from her. Then later it turned into her saying that I'm in love with the neighbour. Also very untrue. The most I say to the neighbour is hi and bye. It's like she keeps on finding ways to push me away and paint me in a bad light. Yet my wife is big friends with the neighbour.

Then to add to the twist, I overheard her telling the neighbour that she wishes her husband (me) would find someone much better because he (me) deserves so much. So on the one hand, I'm smeared amongst all her friends for being this monster but on the other hand she hopes I can find someone because I deserve so much better. Nothing makes sense here.

Just a few months ago we were so close and now this?


Well-known member
Jun 26, 2016
sillyville, USA
This is a lot of information. I'll take a stab at it. I've been married 26 years.
Marriage is like a roller coaster there is ebb and flow.
I see a lot of information pertaining to your wife's behavior. I would retread your post and you might be able to identify some of YOUR own actions that might be some of the cause of your wife's behavior. I am not blaming you at all. But reflecting back on your own emotions with these interaction with your wife might be helpful.
Were you exhibiting insecurity or jealousy during any of those times.
I can tell you women find this very unattractive. The more needy and impatient you become the more she will pull away. That is my own opinion and how I personally operate as a woman.
It's impossible to come up with anything but theory. Everyone's dynamic is so different as a couple.
But I can tell you one thing that drove me mad with my husband was his inability to stand seeing me happy if he wasn't involved. If I self soothed and was happy seeing friends or reading or getting on a forum he would pout or ask a zillion questions and accuse me of stuff. He was very insecure, controlling and jealous. He can still be this way but it has lessened. In fact I did end up having affair because of the acquisitions for years and years and years. It was like a self fulfilling prophecy. It took a very long time for that pain and damage to resolve but we are still together.
He now gives me more space and knows it's a requirement of mine. I need it. Since he has done this I have absolutely zero desire to have an affair. I also told him I didn't love him anymore twice and left for months to go to my mothers.
I don't know if this helps at all but that's my take on it.