my husbands initial lack of empathy and communication was a killer for me. It still is to a degree...while he is much better at recognizing when I am triggered- he still has nothing empathetic or profound to offer....just his standard "Im sorry"..which I really believe he means, with the saddest face ever ..however, he does not possess the self awareness and confidence to be authentic or vulnerable enough to get from behind his shame and guilt. I don't expect much emotionally from him, its sad. I am just grateful that I am gaining self awareness, acceptance, confidence, emotional clarity, and I no longer look to him to make me feel better. Yes, it is possible for him to make me feel much better, but it doesn't happen as often as I'd like. I don't look at him or respect him the same. I see him as more damaged, a fraud, a fake. I don't believe in him anymore
I recognise that lack of empathy and communication only too well, and like your husband, my husband recognises when I am triggered straight away but he always sees it as some kind of judgement or accusation about him rather than show any care or consideration, which is what I need. It hurts, and it’s been a huge barrier to progress.
My husband has slowly developed some empathy, but his default position is defensiveness. Defensiveness is his automatic response. He also lied way too much early in the recovery process. The result is that our progress as a couple has been hindered by this lack of empathy and his continued lying. These days there’s less for him to lie about but he still does it, he still omits things. I came to the conclusion some time ago that this is how he is and this is how things stand. He has had plenty of opportunity to put things right, put right his untruths and I’ve even given him a sort of “amnesty” by telling him explicitly that he if he has anything to tell me, or anything he felt to afraid to be honest about, he can do so. But he hasn’t taken that opportunity. I don’t think I can realistically extend that olive branch any further.
As for my own personal healing, at about the 12-18 months stage I stopped pinning my hopes on my husband doing everything right by the book, in terms of the recovery of the relationship. I decided instead to put my own healing first, instead of centring my husband. I realise now I had been shrinking myself for years, and it was no coincidence that by d day I had quite literally shrunken myself through my eating disorder. I’m quite shocked, looking back. It had all been about his happiness for years, and what he wanted, etc etc. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s the recognition that I was denying myself so much so as to keep the peace. I didn’t voice opinions, I didn’t think I mattered and I didn’t deserve anything, including food. That’s the big shock for me. So it started with basic self care in time I began to rebuild my life by adding back the activities and interests which once gave my life meaning and purpose. I started eating enough, I started dressing better, I developed a sustainable exercise routine, I started doing fun things again with my female friends.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I’ve gone through a lot of depression, and there have been triggers coming at me just about every day, but now I have somewhere to “go” to reconnect with my preferred normalcy whether it’s just texting a friend to say hi and arrange a meet-up, or picking up a book or cooking a meal. Anything that gives me a break from all that crap than spins around inside my head. I’ve even took myself off to a movie when I’ve been gripped by jealousy or anger. Just to get me out of that headspace, and no, I don’t take my husband with me. This is all for me. And what’s more, I’m treating myself like I should have been treated all along. With respect. I come home a happier person and I don’t need find a bit on the side or seek out some sex show when I find the going gets tough. And the more I do these things for myself, the more I WANT to do for myself, regardless of how I might feel about all the garbage I lived through.