Question: Dear Luise: I live in the UK. I have been married for 15 years in a 20-year relationship and I no longer love my wife. I have a ten year-old boy, who I would dearly miss if I was to leave. We have been to counseling, which did not work. She will not let go of the past and will bring things up I did 20 years ago. I feel that she is spying on me and I don’t have private life. I feel like my soul is being destroyed, I know that this sounds dramatic but that’s how I feel. I am at a loss of what to do for the best. S.
Answer: Dear S.: Of course it sounds dramatic, the kind of dilemma you are facing is full of hurt and misunderstanding. Your wife was hurt by something that happened long ago and can’t seem to get over it. You are hurt by her attempts to prevent it happening again, along with her unwillingness to let it go. Your son can’t help but be hurt by the friction between the two of you.
Some marriages become prisons and for most adults that simply doesn’t work. A person can’t be monitored to assure peace and harmony. To the contrary, such mistrust destroys any hope of peace and harmony. It’s not anyone’s job to be how another wants him to be. It’s our job to be how we are and it’s the other person’s job to accept and adjust to that or move on. Hopefully, we all learn and grow as the years go by but at our own pace, not at the insistence of another.
Sometimes it is possible to put forth a declaration of independence to stay in a relationship…a “this is how it’s going to be” statement that is followed up with a refusal to be subjected to further criticism. If you really want to stay, and that’s a big “if”, you can put your foot down and insist that your wife accept the fact that you are in charge of your own life. It isn’t always easy to convince a spouse that her life is her business and your life is yours. Also, such action usually brings accelerated conflict but can be worth it…eventually.
However, you have to still care to want to take that on. If you don’t, it’s probably time to establish a separate residence for yourself and begin the complicated “untanglement” process that is both legal and emotional. That, too, is a hurtful experience but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Always remember that your life is precious. It wasn’t meant to end with marriage. Blessings, Luise