What Next?

 
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Q: My wife and I have been separated for almost a year. I have my faults but I have always provided well for her. At the present time, she is living in our home and I am renting a room from strangers. I love her dearly but I cannot go back. As soon as the next conflict starts, she will do what she usually does when she is upset with me—she will stop talking to me, stop cooking meals and will ignore me completely. Before I left, this state of affairs had been going on for six months. She won’t consider counselling and I am desperate. I am seriously considering divorce.

A: I can understand your distress at this situation. From your perspective, you have done all the rights things, no doubt, and yet your wife does not seem to be happy. I am sorry counselling does not seem to be an option for her because there may be issues, not immediately apparent, which could be confounding the picture. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to a neutral person, who can look at the relationship from a different angle. Perhaps a friend could persuade your wife that counselling is worth a try.

Communication is obviously a sticking point in your relationship. It is not true—or realistic—that love means never having to say you are sorry.

Inevitably, we will hurt each other’s feelings and if we do not have the means with which to put the matter right, the relationship can deteriorate. From a broader perspective, the ability to talk things through and listen to the feelings behind the words is one of the essential elements of a good relationship.

Relationships are complex and sometimes partners find it difficult to tell their spouse what they really need from each other. Providing security is certainly an important part of your role as a husband but you might consider thinking about other aspects of a relationship that are also important.

Have you thought about what your wife might need on an emotional level? Every woman is different and might need a different expression of love. But there are few women able to resist a man who makes her feel as though she is the most important person in the world.

It does take “two to tango” but do not underestimate the power of one to make small changes in the relationship that might just prove the key to unlocking the difficulties.