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Old 24th October 2009, 04:00 PM   #1
confused555
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What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

I have been reading the theory and principles behind “Love Must Be Tough” by James Dobson. The principles seem appropriate for our situation. She feels hurt by me for the years of control, lack of appreciation, and lack of support. I am taking the steps to change. She has acknowledged that she sees the changes yet says she does not feel them. She has mentioned moving out several times and I have said I am not going to stop you, but have also begged her to give it time before she goes. She says she wants to move into an apartment, but the ones she found all had year leases, and she wanted something shorter. I have begged her not to on two occasions.

We tried marriage counseling. We had two meetings with our pastor, and after the second one she felt like her feelings were not being taken into an account and that the years of hurt and pain can’t just go away. We meet with a different marriage / grief counselor last Monday and when she asked the counselor what do with all the feelings she was having towards me the counselor asked her to write them down. My wife did not see the benefit in that and right after we left the counseling session she exploded on me. She has since said she is not ready for marriage counseling, and she needs to focus on herself, and she just wants to be happy. She does have an appointment next Monday for an individual grief counselor. She says she loves me, but is not in love with me. However, her actions are not all negative. Sometimes she says she wants to work on the relationship. Her feelings can change 3 times in one hour. She started texting this guy a lot and I confronted her and she admitted to it being inappropriate, but only the start of an emotional affair. She said it was wrong and she would stop. According the “Love Must Be Tough” principals (very simplified) I should tell her she is free to go and open the cage for her.

However I don’t think it applies to our relationship. Her dad died in July after a year long battle with lung cancer. The year long ordeal took its toll on my wife. She was an emotional wreck for a year. When he died her grief went through the roof. I know everyone grieves differently, but for her this was a major loss. Also on her plate 2 weeks after her dad died she found out her mother has terminal cancer and has 2 years to live. The breakdown in our relationship occurred 1 month ago shortly after her mom ended up in the hospital from side effects of chemo, and seeing her mom for the first time without any hair. She has not had any grief counseling. This next Monday will be her first appointment. I have not been a good husband for the last 14 years all and my recent attempts to change and help out more have been meet with resentment and anger. I know this is normal, and there is no timeline to be followed.

She asked for space the other day, and rather than her move out and really disrupt the children’s (ages 4 and 8) lives I suggested I move out for a while. I am staying in a hotel for now. I have been there for 3 nights. I am honoring her request for space, and on the first night she called and we talked for about 1 hour. Since then she has not contacted me in any way. I want to text her and tell her I love her, but I don’t think she wants that right now. I think she is suffering a lot of guilt for the way she is treating me. She wrote me a not and put it in my suitcase I packed for the hotel. It said “I truly do love you with all my heart! I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. I hope you can forgive me. Know that wherever you are I’m thinking about you J Love you, “

Her family has called me and asked about her because she has ignored their calls and has not confided our relationship problems or how sad she is about her dad and mom to them. She used to confide every detail of her life with her sister and mother. Now they are asking me what is going on. Early in this her sister told her she could not believe she was going to give up on our marriage. Her sister encouraged her to work on our marriage. After that conversation my wife said she was tired of her family controlling her also. She has abandoned all her old friends she says that her friends are trying are trying to control her and only want from her. She is tired of giving to all of them. She has not confided her feelings about our relationship to her family or old friends. She has started a new friendship with a lady 30 years older than her. They have only been friends for about 3 months (right after her dad died and her mom was diagnosed) my wife says this lady is like a mother to her, and the lady says she is like the daughter she never had. This lady has given her a job at a business she owns. My wife was a stay at home mom until 1 month ago. This lady has taken my wife out and bought her clothes. They are planning a trip to Jamaica together. She spends 4 to 5 nights a week with her. She also works with her so they are together all the time.

So with all that should I follow the tough love guidelines and set her free, or is this not the time for tough love? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 24th October 2009, 06:13 PM   #2
jools
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

The tone of your thread is very "controlled" and lacking in things like how much you "love" your wife --- did you use that word? The whole thing just feels cold and emotionless. Just an observation.
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Old 24th October 2009, 07:57 PM   #3
confused555
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

I do love my wife with all my heart. I am saddened by her actions, but it would be very easy to know what to do if I did not have the strong feelings for her.
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Old 24th October 2009, 10:38 PM   #4
JWD
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

Hi confused, so sorry that you find yourself here.

Well, obviously your wife is very depressed what with her dad's death and her mums illness. She sound like she doesn't know where to turn to next. It seems that she is taking it all out on you. You say that you haven't been a good husband for years but its very easy to start blaming ourselves when a marriage breaks down.

I think you are doing everything you can to help the situation and although it may not be right, I think in your shoes I would be doing the exact same so maybe it's just a waiting game :-( . Maybe you can go for grief counselling on your own to maybe get some pointers on how to help her deal with her loss?

I don't know the answers but I feel that the note she left for you is very positive.

You could maybe tell her that you want to respect her wishes and give her space and time but that you're frightened she may see it as you not caring. Maybe just let her know that you are scared to do the wrong thing and you don't want her to confuse this with not trying.

I really hope you can work on this.
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“One day you’re going to wake up and realize how much you care about her and how amazing she really is… and when that day comes she’ll be waking up next to the man who already knew”
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Old 25th October 2009, 09:01 AM   #5
Raymond
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

She sounds like a woman who is fighting for her life and beyond the machinations of the book you are reading. (I thought that title was about being tough with children). She is desperatley looking for healing. In a way it is good that she found this woman (so long as it is above board). Maybe she will heal to such an extent that she can look at things in a more reasoned manner.

She may not be obeying the rules but you don't when you are desperate. She sounds a good woman and a woman with a conscience. You can show your love by encouraging her in her healing and whatever it takes to get there. I don't think she will desert you long term. I don't think so much that it is getting away from you. I think she needs something that will help her at this time and husbands do not have all the answers.

I would bide your time and choose your words carefully. Timing will be everything in this scenario. I think you should move back into the home though. You can still step back and encourage her from there I would have thought.

Raymond
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Old 29th October 2009, 05:05 AM   #6
Jazz204
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

I can relate strongly to both sides of this relationship. I too lost a parent, fell into grief mode and lost the plot. I will tell you clearly and simply, from both reading your letter and knowing what she is going through, what you should do.
1. Be there for her, even though she will spurn you.
2. Be aware that she is vulnerable as far as having an affair is concerned. She will think the other man is giving her the emotional support you are not but ultimately she is wrong. You will be able to give her far more of what is required than anyone else can.
3. Learn what women require. Read books. Men are from Mars, John Gray. The Power of Now, Eckhardt Tolle. Learn how you have lived your life through your ego all your life and how in order to have a rich replationship, you need to learn a lot of things. Start now.
4. You can give her space and also live with her. Learn to listen to her, hear her, ask questions, be still. Just love her. It will be worth it.
5. Dont allow yourself to be pulled along by her black way of thinking. Be yourself strongly but kindly.

So there we have it. Move back in with her, read books, get counselling yourself, be strong and consistent with your wife, by strong I mean solid, always the same, loving always, regardless of anything. Learn how to love more. Help around the house quietly, make sure she knows you are on to her as far as other men and texting etc is concerned. You, the father of her children, are far more important than any stranger or acquaintance who has their own set of problems.
What do you think of that? As well as time, your wife will need help to sort out why her grief is so profound - the older woman may help there. Lots to think about, for your childrens sake as well as yours and your wifes, start the action now. Today.
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Old 29th October 2009, 08:30 AM   #7
Raymond
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

Thats good advice Jazz. The right wisdom for the right circumstance.

Raymond
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Old 29th October 2009, 03:16 PM   #8
confused555
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

Thanks for all your feedback.

JWD,
She is blaming me and I have taking a big load of it on my shoulders. Our relationship has been one where I made all the decisions. She feels like she sacrificed her whole life to make me happy and now she is miserable and wants out. I am going to personal counseling to work on my controlling issues. I have also joined a celebrate recovery group both of which are helping me to see the error of my ways. I know it takes two be controlling, but I can only work on me.

Raymond,
I am trying to choose my words and actions very carefully. If you read the rest of the note you can see that even when I choose the right words it does not always work.

Jazz,
I am trying to do everything I can for her. She is struggling with guilt for the new nicer way I am treating her vs. the anger and resentment she has from our past. The connection to the other man is very difficult for me. I am not in a position to be able to tell her to cut off all ties. He is a son of the lady she has been hanging around so they will still see each other even is she stops texting him. I will get the books you mentioned. I am doing the “love dare” book right now. It is mostly falling on a closed heart, but I am still going forward. I want her to tell me how to give her space. I have asked her if she wants me to stay downstairs after the kids are in bed or if she wants to talk. I don’t want to run off downstairs if that is not what she wants, but I don’t want to be upstairs if she wants to have her time. She does not tell me what she wants. I even asked it as a gentle question like describe a perfect evening while I am living in the basement. With any question its always I don’t know. She did open up to me about some past anger she had. It was a after a counseling session she had. I just listened and it helped me understand her view of the relationship and the pain she was in.


I did end up moving back into the house although it was a interesting revelation for me the way it happened. I talked to her on Sunday and said “I am uncomfortable staying in the hotel because I don’t like being away from the kids and I feel like I can’t show you love and support. Can you think about me staying in the basement and let me know what you decide” Then the next night I had watched the kids so she could go to counseling. After she got home and the kids were in bed I said I was going to go to the hotel. She said “I thought you were going to stay in the basement” I said I would like to if that is ok with you. She said “well that is what you said last night that you were going to stay in the basement” I did not discuss that anymore with her, but I realized that in her mind she passes everything she hears or thinks or does through a sort of internal filter that is “what would make my husband happy” she has done it for so long that now it is second nature. There have been several times in our relationship that I have said something like “I like that” or “Wouldn’t it be neat if” and she has later said you said you wanted this or that. I was always confused when this happened, but assumed it was just a misunderstanding in the way I said it. But that conversation about moving back in I had rehearsed over and over because I did not want to come off as controlling. I don’t know if she can realize this on her own or not. I thought about recording a conversation where I tell her a feeling I am having and then the next day for her to tell me what I said and compare that to the recoding. I won’t really do this, but it was just a thought.

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Old 29th October 2009, 05:43 PM   #9
Ageing Grace
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

That's a very perceptive reply, Confused. I admit I'm surprised - you're definitely taking on board what you have learned!

It will be interesting to hear how you apply your learning about your wife's 'pleasing' behaviour patterns. Her over-compliance suggests she has some long-term issues which, as Jazz implied, have been agitated by her father's death.

It's fantastic that you're both going to counselling. I believe there's a real possibility that you will end up together, in a far happier marriage - the one you both wanted from the beginning, if only you'd known how!

This is a tricky path to climb. But worth it. I wish you both the very best of luck, and a helping hand when you most need it. If your wife knows you're posting to a forum, please give her my warm wishes - and the same to you, of course.

AG
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Old 29th October 2009, 05:56 PM   #10
Raymond
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

Confused this is so confusing (excuse the pun). There is obviously more going on than first was apparent.

I hadn't picked up that the lady had a son. Is this a threat? I think you have to keep your eye on that and maybe confront him if it gets a bit iffy.

We know your wife is in mourning which seems to be affecting her and the way she is behaving but there is past history as well. Is this about your controlling? No it doesn't take two to control only one. The other one will only feel controlled. The fact that you have now seen this will make a difference but the wounds are still there and need to be healed.

I never thought you should have moved out in the first place. I don't think you should be so apologetic, living in the basement and what not. You can be considerate in other ways. That is your home as well. What if this other chap came around? You don't want to give signals that your marriage is over.

It is good that she is getting counseling. Hopefully she will work through the present issues. The changes you have made will take time to work through and won't really be believed until they have stood the test of time.

All you can do is keep loving her and just being there for her, but keep your eyes on this other fellow because of her present vulnerability.

Raymond
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Old 29th October 2009, 07:22 PM   #11
confused555
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

AgeingGrace,
I would like to know HOW to apply what I have learned about my wife’s pleasing to communicate with her. Just last night she came home from my daughters dance practice and said I was mad at her for not getting home at a certain time. I had no expectations plans or anything. I figured she would be out much later than she was so I was of course not mad. I tried to reassure her of this, but it’s like she thinks she knows what I want. I admit the my old self would of expected her home earlier because I know what time dance practice ended. If she got home later than normal I would have asked where she was. I don’t know what is controlling and what is not right now. I am trying to learn the balance between assertive and controlling statements. I am hopeful making progress, but she told me last night she went looking for apartments. She says I make her feel guilty anytime she sees me.

Raymond,
Yes the whole story is very confusing. Yes the son of this lady is the man she was texting. I have asked once what went on with him and she said just a friendship and she should not have been confiding in another man and she would stop. She never said what went back and forth on the texts of what else they did together other than it was not sexual. Just the other night the older lady called and said she was going over to her sons (the texting man) house to take something there. My wife asked her if she had been drinking (she said she sounded drunk) and the lady said yes. My wife said I am going to go take her cause I don’t want her driving drunk. My emotions kicked into overdrive but I resisted the urge to say anything. She looked at me and said I can tell your upset what’s going on (she can read my facial expressions like a book). I said “Its Just” and then stopped. I said we can talk about it later. The older lady called her back and said her husband would take her so my wife did not go. Later my wife said I felt like you were being controlling earlier and I told her that I was struggling with that issue and I know I did not handle it properly. I explained that I did not think it was appropriate to go over to this mans house at night. She said she did not want her friend driving drunk, and she could not believe that I did not trust her. I said we both need to work on our trust (because she does not trust that I won’t continue to work or overcome my control issues). This really upset her. She went off about how this won’t work if I can’t trust her, and how 2 weeks of a friendship does not compare to the 18 years of pain I have caused her. She said it’s over. The next day she went to look for apartments. When she came home I asked her if she signed a lease or she was going to sign a lease she said she does not know. She seemed a little more open to talk, but says she is really bothered by my trust issues. I don’t get this because if the roles where reversed and I texted another woman 60 times over two days she would leave me in a heartbeat.

She did not like the counselor she saw on Monday. She is going to see the same counselor I am seeing tonight. This will be the second time she has seen her. The first time she thought she was good but did not want to use the same counselor as me. Now that she has tried 3 other counselors she is going back to the one I use for the second time.

I am trying to show her love and patience. I am being treated like a doormat and don’t like that. I know that if I were to ask for respect or anything it would be turned into a controlling issue and push her further away. I don’t know if it is right, but I feel like my only hope is to hang in there until she gets several sessions of counseling to help her overcome her passive tendencies, and handle the grief of her mom and dad.
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Old 30th October 2009, 12:34 AM   #12
Jazz204
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

I have read all the threads and thought about it. Rather than counselling, I recommend a psychiatrist. Seriously, they are worth far more than a counsellor in a case such as this. What I hear is not anything that requires blame, or is anything to do with marriage problems as such. Rather, here is a woman who loves her husband and family and who requires a time of going back over some things from her childhood. Thats where all this starts from and is deeply connected to her parents. You will go round and round, akin to trying to get a jelly back into a mould, if you come from a marriage guidance stance.
In the meantime, as one person advised, choose your words carefully, dont be reactive to anything she says, she can only respond negatively if you give her something to react against, smile a lot, love her openly, dont allow this to blemish the next generation (your young children) and get professionally trained personnel with experience. One or two consults with a trained psychologist and she will marvel at how easy it is, how quickly one can feel better, how wonderful the trained person is, and then she will start to grow and change and accept and love again.
There is nobody in their right mind who would think that your wife should have rushed off to help her drunk friend go to visit the son. Of course it was not the right thing to do. You know what is right and wrong in your heart and so does she. You both sound like wonderful, loving people to me, and it comes through strongly how much you love each other. Dont even think of moving out again, never mention it, never respond if she mentions it. You are there, that is where you are staying and you shall both get through this. Head up, both of you. Make the changes, it will be worth it.
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Old 30th October 2009, 12:40 AM   #13
Jazz204
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

and if you feel you are being treated like a doormat, well so be it. She is in reactive stage, she wants to find herself, wants to shed the grief and the deep problems. Forgive her if she is not the most fair, the most sensitive to your needs, the most anything. I am sure it wont be forever. The pendulum is swinging broadly, she is overreactive, is not herself. What she does now is not going to be the way she is in the future. Serve your wife, read Mother Teresa's words, become a bigger person yourself. It will be worth it.
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Old 30th October 2009, 08:57 AM   #14
Raymond
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

Just a quick reply confused as time short just now. Your wife seems to resent your lack of trust for her. From what you say she has stepped back from the relationship with this fellow and knows it is wrong. I think you can therefore trust her in this under the circumstances. A control issue is not trusting the other to be a person but wanting to control outcomes because of ones own insecurities. She is very sensitive to this now because of the past so you almost have to go the other way to show you have changed. As I said before it will take time for this to sink in. I don't think she wants to leave but threatens to to get her point accross. Love never controls another as you have probably learned by now. Now is a very difficult time because of all sorts of things not the least what she is being healed of. I would study more what control is. Men do it through domination and women do it through manipulation. It is not loving. I think you have to keep away from the bad habits of the past and allow her to be herself. Everything you do can be judged by one criteria and that is "Is it loving".

Raymond
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Old 30th October 2009, 10:35 AM   #15
Jazz204
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Re: What is the right thing to do for my wife right now?

Raymond is very wise.
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