I am male aged 38 and have been married for 18 years. My wife and I have built our lives together over this time including having a beautiful 13-year-old daughter. I work a night shift and have done so for the last 8 years, but before I started working nights my wife didn't really want me to. We needed the extra income to achieve what we have built up together, so I had to work nights. For the last 8 months we have slowly drifted apart in our relationship. Some of the problems what have gone on I know about but I never took them that seriously. Over the last 8 months we have continued to sleep together but my wife now puts a pillow between us so everything seems so cold and I feel so alone.
Last week on Monday morning I mentioned booking a holiday but I didn't expect what was coming next!... she said, "No" to the holiday, and said, "you'll have to go or I'm going". Since this has happened neither of us have stopped crying but she maintains she has to go through with this because she needs SPACE and she doesn't want to live in a country village anymore.
The house is now going up for sale, which means 2 new homes - one for me and one for my wife and daughter. I've even suggested paying for her to go on holiday without me to get some space but NOTHING appears to work. Both of our families now know and it's been very upsetting. I'm not an selfish man...I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't play golf, I don't really go out with lads, I just try and keep a family unit together the best way I know how. All I want is my wife back in my life and I'll do anything to have what I had before.... I'm so scared, alone and I feel a failure. Please, please Help!
It's hard for me to answer your question as to whether or not your wife is currently working on the marriage because I don't know her and haven't heard her perspective about the way things are between you right now.
This process calls for some patience on your part. If you insist that she change immediately, you are likely to drive her away. Your wife will make changes if and when she's ready to so. Meanwhile, the effort and energy that you expend trying to get her to change only make you more exhausted and frustrated. It can be very freeing to simply realize and acknowledge that you don't have any control over her or whether or not she's ready to build more emotional intimacy with you. I encourage you to continue to communicate to her your feelings. But do so because it will be good for you to express your feelings rather than keep them bottled up, NOT in an effort to push her to change.
During the time in which you can only wait patiently for your wife to move towards you on an emotional level, you need some emotional support from people other than her, whether it be family, friends, or a therapist of your own. At some point, you may need to assess how long you are willing to wait for your wife to become more emotionally available to you, and individual therapy would be an excellent place to explore this question further.
Your commitment to your marriage and your willingness to work towards change within it are admirable. If your wife is willing, why not pursue couples counseling together? I believe that you and your wife would make excellent candidates for marital work. You've made considerable progress on your own and are both expressing a desire for an increase in closeness. I wish you the best of luck.
Susan Maroto, LCSW
This question has been answered by Susan Maroto. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She uses an eclectic approach to holistic healing, mind-body relationships, life transitions, depression, and anxiety.
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