Question: Dear Luise: I have married to a man for 8 years and now I am 28 years of age. The first few years was fine. As I am growing older, I am starting to realize that my husband and I have communication problems. We talk about different things and most of the time we don’t talk at all because he never pay attention to what I say. Now, I look at him as a total stranger and I also have lost the excitement when making love with him. During weekends, he will hang out with his friends and I will be left alone at home. I feel like being neglected and I think I will live happily alone without him. Two weeks ago, I asked for divorce and he begged me for a second chance. He had threaten to commit suicide if I had to divorce him. He promised to bring me out for movies etc. on weekend but that never happened. I want to divorce him but I am afraid he will do something stupid (committing suicide). What should I do now? WK (Malaysia)
Answer: Dear WK: I strongly suggest that you take your problem to a counselor and get some one-on-one support as you work your way through this dilemma.
Once you accept being blackmailed, you have given your power to another person. Your husband is using a very old and often very successful ploy to control you. He is implying that if you leave him, his death, if he follows through, would be your fault.
Despite your present partnership, which you have decided to dissolve, you are two separate people. You are in charge of your life and his is in charge of his. The fact that he doesn’t want to end your marriage puts him at a disadvantage. However, he’s an adult and surely knows by now that life is full of situations we may not like but still have to deal with.
I called a friend of mine who went through a similar situation and asked him for his input. He said he got some very valuable counseling and approached the divorce from the point of view of “holding his wife able”. In other words, it was up to her whether she followed through with a similar threat, went on with a dismal life or decided to create whatever she most wanted. In their case, she did not take her life and has since recovered. She has even found someone she likes better. That’s never a guarantee but what happened to her after the divorce was about her, not about him. He told me he knew he was not responsible for her life turning out well…any more than he would have been if she had decided to end it.
This may sound callous. However, someone wanting to control you for the rest of you life by intimidating you is a pretty ruthless attitude to take. It reflects the concept that you matter so much that you don’t matter at all. Blessings, Luise