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Need Help Alexithymia downfall of marriage

I've been married for many years and I was always convinced my wife had BPD and that was the source of our relationship problems. The last year has taken a nosedive and revealed that whatever her problems I'm afraid I may have the bigger one. I'm pretty sure I have Alexithymia and I say that as a person who normally doesn't trust any type of self-diagnosis.

I've been seeing a therapist who's not familiar with it and struggling to find one who is. Most information I find on it is general or academic research and I can't even find a therapist who claims to have expertise in it.

I realize I have no friends, can't communicate with hardly anyone and when I do I have no interest in anything. I see myself not even realizing I don't have food preferences. I've met a lot of people, rich, poor, young, old, religious, secular, intelligent, stupid, kind, mean, etc and no matter who they are there's always something they love, practice, embrace, study, hang out with, attend. There's something and I realize I don't have anything. My wife has said I'm practically mute at times and when I talk a lot it's never emotional, deep, or meaningful but surface level, smalltalk. I realize I talk to myself, a lot.

I didn't get along with my mom as a kid, but as an adult I kept inventing reasons to not interact with her. My other family I've pushed away and am completely alienated from. They didn't abuse me or mistreat me, I just didn't even know how to keep a semi-relationship going.

I'm calm and collected around people, sometimes I even like making smalltalk with strangers but realize I'm not doing much of anything. My wife says I've robbed her of her happiness. I feel like I do love her and have told her constantly I do but when she has pressed me to put it into words the best I can do is I get a warm feeling that I can't put into words.

I would die for my wife to protect her and have told her but she doesn't even think I'm interested in her as a man. She's told my affection, is rare, robotic, or just lustful. I want desperately to make her happy and I can't seem to even be a person who's enjoyable to be around

I thought I could describe my emotions, sad is sad, angry is angry, it sounds silly for someone with an education but I couldn't really do it more justice.

I've suffered from a vagal response where I faint if I'm in a lot of pain or see blood or am having blood taken. I can't help but think I'm actually experiencing fear and because it's so rare I feel anything my body just collapses. I'm a cancer survivor who realized he wasn't that scared or even grateful when he got better and people around me were more emotional about it than I was.

I'm even a Catholic which means I'm obligated to love others and serve others and I'm embarrassed of how I have not.

I'm a grown mature adult who knows how to work, pay bills, drive, discuss political issues, vote, etc. But I can't seem to understand why I should just hang out on somebody's couch, drink beer, and maybe tell them I love them and I'm here for them. I'm lacking something fundamental in my head where it connects to my heart. I wish I knew what to do.
 
Ive been discussing alexythemia with my psychologist and she (as well as another friend of mine) have suggested printing out an emotion wheel and she has suggested that journaling even once a week and using the wheel to help push myself to go beyond just recording the events that happened, but trying to begin to identify how i am feeling. I haven't started this yet, but i hope it helps me, and maybe it can help you!

P.S. I'm Anglican and also have some guilt about not "being there" for people in ways my neurotypical friends can feel loved, but another way that has helped me work through some of that is doing acts of service for people. Helping friends renovate his attic to create space for their growing family and working with a mutual aid food distribution group have been great ways to show people i care through actions that feel natural to me (physical labor, driving food around) without needing to have deep conversations/be expressive. Hope that helps!
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
Think your wife is very lucky that you tell her you love her. I don't understand what more there is. That's really beautiful. Someone l know doesn't talk alot but it's okay with me. I don't feel robbed. I feel calm and happy in their presence. I don't need idle talk.

Is your wife NT?
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
I'm pretty sure I have Alexithymia and I say that as a person who normally doesn't trust any type of self-diagnosis.

I've been seeing a therapist who's not familiar with it and struggling to find one who is.

Based on your description of your childhood, it sounds like you were severely emotionally neglected which can cause alexithymia. You may have better luck asking for a therapist who has experience with childhood emotional neglect.
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
I've been married for many years and I was always convinced my wife had BPD and that was the source of our relationship problems. The last year has taken a nosedive and revealed that whatever her problems I'm afraid I may have the bigger one. I'm pretty sure I have Alexithymia and I say that as a person who normally doesn't trust any type of self-diagnosis.



I've been seeing a therapist who's not familiar with it and struggling to find one who is. Most information I find on it is general or academic research and I can't even find a therapist who claims to have expertise in it.



I realize I have no friends, can't communicate with hardly anyone and when I do I have no interest in anything. I see myself not even realizing I don't have food preferences. I've met a lot of people, rich, poor, young, old, religious, secular, intelligent, stupid, kind, mean, etc and no matter who they are there's always something they love, practice, embrace, study, hang out with, attend. There's something and I realize I don't have anything. My wife has said I'm practically mute at times and when I talk a lot it's never emotional, deep, or meaningful but surface level, smalltalk. I realize I talk to myself, a lot.



I didn't get along with my mom as a kid, but as an adult I kept inventing reasons to not interact with her. My other family I've pushed away and am completely alienated from. They didn't abuse me or mistreat me, I just didn't even know how to keep a semi-relationship going.



I'm calm and collected around people, sometimes I even like making smalltalk with strangers but realize I'm not doing much of anything. My wife says I've robbed her of her happiness. I feel like I do love her and have told her constantly I do but when she has pressed me to put it into words the best I can do is I get a warm feeling that I can't put into words.



I would die for my wife to protect her and have told her but she doesn't even think I'm interested in her as a man. She's told my affection, is rare, robotic, or just lustful. I want desperately to make her happy and I can't seem to even be a person who's enjoyable to be around



I thought I could describe my emotions, sad is sad, angry is angry, it sounds silly for someone with an education but I couldn't really do it more justice.



I've suffered from a vagal response where I faint if I'm in a lot of pain or see blood or am having blood taken. I can't help but think I'm actually experiencing fear and because it's so rare I feel anything my body just collapses. I'm a cancer survivor who realized he wasn't that scared or even grateful when he got better and people around me were more emotional about it than I was.



I'm even a Catholic which means I'm obligated to love others and serve others and I'm embarrassed of how I have not.



I'm a grown mature adult who knows how to work, pay bills, drive, discuss political issues, vote, etc. But I can't seem to understand why I should just hang out on somebody's couch, drink beer, and maybe tell them I love them and I'm here for them. I'm lacking something fundamental in my head where it connects to my heart. I wish I knew what to do.
You sound as much depressed as alexithymic to me but I'm not an expert. Being lustful is being interested in her as a man. I suspect she really means she wants romance. Flowers and chocolates and holding doors and snuggling and a kind of euphoria.

If you can't be romantic, you can't be romantic. Going thru the motions is easy but generating the emotions for you might not be possible. There's no cure but like autism, therapy can be helpful in learning to improvise, adapt, and cope. CBT is probably the best option but it is really terra incognita in the psychological community. Beware of snake oil salespeople.

Apparently, alexithymia shows up in about 50% of autistic people and it is how autistic people got a reputation for not having empathy. Also shows up in third to half of people with major depressive disorder. Possibly genetic in nature. They've identified a spot in the brain, the insular cortex, where a defect can cause it. But it isn't well understood. No doubt someone will try to blame it on thimerisol and file a lawsuit.

 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@wishIUnderstood23

You have a duty to your wife to help her have a fulfilling life.

Part of that is normally establishing and working hard to maintain an emotional bond.
That's by no means all of the responsibilities you have towards her, but it's the one you're asking about.

So you have at least one internal issue: "being yourself" deprives your wife of something vitally important.
There's probably also an external issue: it's not unlikely that your wife is considering withdrawing from your relationship.

One question which is personal, but I think you need to answer it anyway: do you have children, and of you don't are you and your wife both comfortable with that?

BTW don't over-answer - and/or feel free to iterate this in small steps.
I don't answer personal questions myself, so I never resent other people protecting their privacy.
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Knowing that you have a problem to work on is way better than just telling your wife that she has all the responsability. So you are better now that you are aware of the issue.

The way you do writte makes me think that you have feelings, there is an spectrum in alexithymia and maybe with practice you (your body conscious mind) can become more and more aware of the feelings going on on your body.

If you actually had no feelings you would probably never worried enougth to writte your opening post.

This issue is quite common in autism, so you can search a good autism therapist and try. You can also learn more by yourself. Some people have it genetically and it can be developed as a shielding response to be able to function on hard conditions.

Talking with your wife to see how she feels and supoort her in her decissions its also another new working field for you. Learn to listen and dettect the emotional needs of others may be something new for you.

Congratulations on becoming aware and asking for help. You already solved half of the problem by not negating it. Many people never reach that stage.
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Think your wife is very lucky that you tell her you love her. I don't understand what more there is. That's really beautiful. Someone l know doesn't talk alot but it's okay with me. I don't feel robbed. I feel calm and happy in their presence. I don't need idle talk.

Is your wife NT?
Thats for his wife to decide. She may have other expectations.

There is a full spectrum on love too, so just not being abused is not to be loved. And just being ok is still not to be loved.

What does his wife wants? Lets read what she said:

My wife has said I'm practically mute at times and when I talk a lot it's never emotional, deep, or meaningful but surface level, smalltalk.

My wife says I've robbed her of her happiness. I feel like I do love her and have told her constantly I do but when she has pressed me to put it into words the best I can do is I get a warm feeling that I can't put into words.

she doesn't even think I'm interested in her as a man. She's told my affection, is rare, robotic, or just lustful.

So she doesnt seem to be very happy.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
Thats for his wife to decide. She may have other expectations.

There is a full spectrum on love too, so just not being abused is not to be loved. And just being ok is still not to be loved.

What does his wife wants? Lets read what she said:





So she doesnt seem to be very happy.
I think love language is different for everyone. I was merely offering support, not trying to decide what the wife needed. That's not my stand. People appreciate support and we are allowed to offer it. When l first met an autistic person, l was very surprised that they didn't talk alot. But then l learned that is okay. Because they showed me themselves in other ways.
 
Think your wife is very lucky that you tell her you love her. I don't understand what more there is. That's really beautiful. Someone l know doesn't talk alot but it's okay with me. I don't feel robbed. I feel calm and happy in their presence. I don't need idle talk.

Is your wife NT?
I guess technically she isn't with the BPD, but since it seems like the crux of my problem with her is emotions, in that sense she seems very typical.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
Do you wish to discuss this? There quite a few married people at this forum and their insight is truthful.
 
Based on your description of your childhood, it sounds like you were severely emotionally neglected which can cause alexithymia. You may have better luck asking for a therapist who has experience with childhood emotional neglect.
That's a good idea, I will try that angle instead. It's weird because I didn't feel like I didn't have emotions or couldn't understand them, but if I step out of myself and try to be honest people have told me some clues:

Different people have kinda told me I've got a good poker face or that I look like I'm this tough guy who shouldn't be messed with, more than one person made a joke and when I laughed they said something like "can you believe I actually got this guy here to smile?". I've always thought of myself as very approachable and easy to talk to so I guess I just figured oh that's silly for somebody to think those things about me when I'm just standing here listening. As a kid they used to tell me I talked like a robot and I always thought just mean kids, I didn't think they were just being honest.

As an adult I've always thought people are way too emotional, it never occurred to me I'm just experiencing people going through a range of emotions but since I hardly experience any, it seems like everybody else is experiencing them to a really big degree.
 
You sound as much depressed as alexithymic to me but I'm not an expert. Being lustful is being interested in her as a man. I suspect she really means she wants romance. Flowers and chocolates and holding doors and snuggling and a kind of euphoria.

If you can't be romantic, you can't be romantic. Going thru the motions is easy but generating the emotions for you might not be possible. There's no cure but like autism, therapy can be helpful in learning to improvise, adapt, and cope. CBT is probably the best option but it is really terra incognita in the psychological community. Beware of snake oil salespeople.

Apparently, alexithymia shows up in about 50% of autistic people and it is how autistic people got a reputation for not having empathy. Also shows up in third to half of people with major depressive disorder. Possibly genetic in nature. They've identified a spot in the brain, the insular cortex, where a defect can cause it. But it isn't well understood. No doubt someone will try to blame it on thimerisol and file a lawsuit.


I recall one dinner where I thought everything was going really well a few years back. Nice restaurant, we were both dressed nice, my wife looked pretty, I told her how great she looked and happy I was to be there with her. So as the dinner went on I was looking at her, happy to be there, waiting on our food and she kind of said it like a joke "so great date huh?" She said I wasn't talking to her and it was awkward, that's a word she uses often when I try to be affectionate with her. My go to in that situation is to always ask, 'what do you want to talk about?' and I never seem to learn that's the worst thing I can say, it just shows I'm not getting it.

It's not that I won't talk to her or she doesn't deserve it, I literally think in the moment, 'there's nothing to say, because things are fine' and then when she tells me they aren't I want to say "ok let's address what's wrong" and I don't realize that spoils whatever kind of emotional feelings could have been going on.
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
That's a good idea, I will try that angle instead. It's weird because I didn't feel like I didn't have emotions or couldn't understand them, but if I step out of myself and try to be honest people have told me some clues:

Different people have kinda told me I've got a good poker face or that I look like I'm this tough guy who shouldn't be messed with, more than one person made a joke and when I laughed they said something like "can you believe I actually got this guy here to smile?". I've always thought of myself as very approachable and easy to talk to so I guess I just figured oh that's silly for somebody to think those things about me when I'm just standing here listening. As a kid they used to tell me I talked like a robot and I always thought just mean kids, I didn't think they were just being honest.

As an adult I've always thought people are way too emotional, it never occurred to me I'm just experiencing people going through a range of emotions but since I hardly experience any, it seems like everybody else is experiencing them to a really big degree.

If you can't find a therapist or want to learn more about emotional neglect, I recommend the book, "Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect" by Jonice Webb, PhD.
 

phantom

Well-Known Member
I seriously relate to a lot of what you have described here, pretty sure I also have alexithymia and some kindof mild depression. We aren't wired correctly and there is no real solution.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
When l go out, l just enjoy seeing him smile. Tell me how he is feeling. Does he enjoy this restaurant? How is special interests are going? We don't have to talk the entire time. Not necessary. And l enjoy making him laugh and relax.

But l am lost at this point. What do you feel your issues are?
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
I guess technically she isn't with the BPD, but since it seems like the crux of my problem with her is emotions, in that sense she seems very typical.
Not every NT needs to be talking all the time. Some do and some don't. There is such a thing as companionable silence.

I think the need to talk is to keep the brain busy. Not everyone can put their brain in neutral and idle. Not everyone is comfortable with their own thoughts.

I wouldn't look too deeply into the childhood trauma thing. If you don't remember being savagely abused, then you probably weren't. I've had a couple of different therapists who tried to go the childhood trauma route. They were useless. Problematic issues like autism have to do with brain structure and are probably more genes than anything else. Alexithymia has been connected to problems in the insular cortex, a structure deep inside the brain. Even depression has a fair amount of genetics behind it.
 

WhitewaterWoman

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Just a nuts and bolts type suggestion: Make a list of topics your wife is interested in, topics she likes to talk about. Memorize it. Then use these questions. Use open ended questions (can’t be answered with just a yes or no.)

Learn some active listening techniques like verbal acknowledgements that you have heard her. Use them. These will probably feel artificial and useless at first. It gets easier with time.

It’s just another skill that might make things better for her.
 

Alexej

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I've been married for many years and I was always convinced my wife had BPD and that was the source of our relationship problems. The last year has taken a nosedive and revealed that whatever her problems I'm afraid I may have the bigger one. I'm pretty sure I have Alexithymia and I say that as a person who normally doesn't trust any type of self-diagnosis.

I've been seeing a therapist who's not familiar with it and struggling to find one who is. Most information I find on it is general or academic research and I can't even find a therapist who claims to have expertise in it.

I agree that self diagnosis is to be done carefully. Fining someone who knows about and can support with alexi is not easy.

I realize I have no friends, can't communicate with hardly anyone and when I do I have no interest in anything. I see myself not even realizing I don't have food preferences. I've met a lot of people, rich, poor, young, old, religious, secular, intelligent, stupid, kind, mean, etc and no matter who they are there's always something they love, practice, embrace, study, hang out with, attend. There's something and I realize I don't have anything. My wife has said I'm practically mute at times and when I talk a lot it's never emotional, deep, or meaningful but surface level, smalltalk. I realize I talk to myself, a lot.
My wife has also told me that I hardly speak in social situations. I do not think that I talk to myself a lot, but my wife says that sometimes she thinks that because I have thought a matter, I have communicated it with her.

I didn't get along with my mom as a kid, but as an adult I kept inventing reasons to not interact with her. My other family I've pushed away and am completely alienated from. They didn't abuse me or mistreat me, I just didn't even know how to keep a semi-relationship going.
My family do not know who to interact with me. My children have decised, for reasons that dont make sense to me, not to talk to me, but expect me to be in touch with them.

I'm a grown mature adult who knows how to work, pay bills, drive, discuss political issues, vote, etc. But I can't seem to understand why I should just hang out on somebody's couch, drink beer, and maybe tell them I love them and I'm here for them. I'm lacking something fundamental in my head where it connects to my heart. I wish I knew what to do.
That connection from head to heart is impaired in the case of alexi. I do not know "what to do about it". I do not think there is anything to be "done". However, you knowing about it and perhaps sharing that info with the other significant folk in your life may help them understand why you are how you are - but it may not and they may not take that info onboard (but that is their choice)
 

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