Marriage Success Possible When the Wife Has Prior Sexual Abuse?

(Video transcript edited for readability)


Hi there, my name is Athol, and I’m here to help you fix your relationship, improve your life, and understand your personality.

This episode is going to be Ask Athol Anything and if you have a question for me you can send me it at

So here’s today’s question. “In the MMSL Primer”, (my first book), “you very briefly advise not attempting certain things if your wife was sexually abused in the past. I just wanted to ask, from your experience coaching other men, how much success did they have running the MAP when their wives had been sexually abused in the past?”

So I’ve got two answers to that. The first is going to be one of the things I said right at the very beginning of the Primer. I can guarantee if you run the MAP, put the effort into building attraction and comfort, I can guarantee you’re going to get a positive response from women. You’re going to be able to attract into your life a woman who will respond to you, want you and have a good relationship with you. But I just can’t quite guarantee that it’s going to be the woman that you’re currently married to.

I don’t know if I really have too much different to say now than I did five, six years ago when I wrote the book. What I see with everyone that I’m coaching, is they run the MAP, put the effort in, and they all become more attractive. They all become happier. They all have a greater sense of confidence. Of course I’m advertising my coaching here, that hey it works, it’s wonderful, but they really do. They all feel better about themselves. They often get other women start responding to them better. So they really do have direct evidence they are more attractive.

Pretty much in all the cases where there was no real problem with the wife other than a lack of attraction, they all have fabulous, fabulous results.

But where you have a blockage, where you do have a significant problem such as sexual abuse or any other kind of significant trauma, then it is hard to know exactly what will happen. Often I find, the whole point of the MAP gets to be you trying to create enough attraction, enough value, enough momentum in your relationship that you can actually successfully leverage things to actually make her want to deal with the problem.

So like I say, if the only problem was attraction and you become attractive, it’s problem solved. But if the problem is she has some sort of sexual trauma that she’s not addressing, she’s had no therapy, no counseling, never worked on it, is still reactive, then that’s often a significant blockage.

You gaining significant value means when you get to that point true leverage, you can actually get to the place of, “Hey babe the trouble is that you have this unresolved trauma. If you can fix it fantastic, but if you’re refusing to fix it, eventually I might leave or find someone who will respond to me. I will eventually have to stop tolerating this endless sacrifice of not having the relationship I want with you.”

Your increased attraction may be what it is that swings the balance and actually encourages her to finally say, “You know what? Me dealing with all this sexual abuse crap is something that I don’t want to do, but I really don’t want to lose the relationship I have with you, particularly now you’re so good and things are pretty great. So I guess I’m going to finally deal with it.”

So a major point of the MAP becomes creating the scenario where you can actually leverage genuine change on a deeply embedded problem.

That being said, there’s no particular assurances that they will go for it. Pretty much the worse the sexual abuse is, the worse the situation, the deeper the trauma or mental illness or whatever it is, the harder it is to change things. If it’s relatively light you have good chances. If it’s really heavy, you have reduced chances. But it’s often the only thing that’s actually going to encourage them to try and deal with it.

I don’t know if I have any hard and fast rules in terms of how many people improve and how many don’t. I’ve certainly seen some incredibly fantastic guys- physically attractive, great jobs, high value, kind, caring, committed, loyal- who discovered that the wife they are with has really, really deeply ingrained disorders. They find there is nothing they can do, or say, or want to be or anything that is ever going to get her to address things. In those situations the relationship sort of seemed to go smooth when they’re not trying to get what they want, but as soon as they try and get what they want things suddenly and destabilize and blow up.

I’ve also seen some situations where the guy is like, “You know what, I can’t fix this. I am tired of living my life with somebody else’s problem, and there’s no requirement I live a life of sacrifice so someone else doesn’t have to deal with a problem. I knew who I was when I moved into this relationship. I understand how I attracted this person into my life, and now I can move on and do something different and better.”

And on the other hand, I’ve seen people with some fairly deep situations actually make progress as the wife responds. But even then it is always a slow, steady, methodical process. Even if she suddenly says, “Yes, I’ve got to deal with this trauma”, it can be some considerable period of time as they go on therapy or get on meds or whatever it is to pull themselves out of the funk and down place they’ve been in.

So it really is a mixed bag answer.

On one hand I can tell you the sort of cheesy answer of yes, everyone will be 100% successful. They will become more attractive. They can certainly find someone to be with. But there’s also the more realistic one where the person asking really wants to be attached to a particular outcome, and there isn’t any particular guarantee that that person will sign on for trying to fix the problem. And that’s the awkward truth.

That being said, if you are totally maxed out in terms of your attractiveness, your value, the love you’re expressing, your commitment to make it all work, and they don’t want to fix a relationship-breaking problem, and they would blow things up if you were to suggest it, then there’s nothing much left to try and do to fix things. You’re out of cards to play at that point.

Speaking as someone who’s now dealt with hundreds of cases of these now, sometimes it really is for the best that people let go. I’m certainly super committed to seeing marriages work and I’m super committed to seeing people stay together and having wonderful lives and outcomes. But I’ve also seen so many cases now where I’ve said to people listen you have done everything. You are just bashing your head against a brick wall. You’ve been married in this situation for twenty, twenty-five years and all I can see for the future is exactly how it is now, and right now is awful.

Quotable001So like I say there is no requirement that anyone sacrifice themselves to help someone else avoid facing a problem in their life. What’s really sad is we’re not even trying to take anything away from the spouse who has this injury. We would love to help them and support them, the irony is what we’re trying to give them is a happy life, a great relationship, a shared history that stays intact and a happy family. Yet there are some people that will fight you hard to make sure they never deal with their deepest problems.

So on that sort of mixed blessing note, I think I’ll leave it there.

So please share, like, comment, subscribe, and all that good internet stuff. If you have a question for me, And I will catch you next time.



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