My wife of ten years has changed completely. We’re both 37.
She had a good-income job where she had many friends. She was also involved in side-interests for making money, e.g. doing wedding photos for a couple of years, then tutoring.
I’m a male nurse. The salary level isn’t that high. I also lead a choir after-hours.
A few years ago, my wife took a modest buy-out and left her job.
She said the bosses had changed, many of her co-worker friends left, and business had decreased.
She hasn’t had a job since. She’s become obsessed with yoga and attends group classes. That’s it: no more part-time gigs, little house care, shopping for food only as needed.
We have one daughter whom I drive to school, and take to sports activities. My wife’s only committed to taking her to kids’ yoga.
I feel overwhelmed by our expenses since she can no longer contribute as much as before (from her buy-out fund and savings, which are depleting).
She’s a stubborn, determined woman and doesn’t take easily to being questioned about her decisions.
I love her and don’t want to break up our family.
What do you advise?
A Changed Wife
Everyone changes, including you. But when the changes seem unusual, and strain others in the family, there comes a time when discussion about it is crucial.
Not blame, not a fight, just an attempt to understand.
I can’t guess at what so dramatically altered your wife’s pattern – though clearly leaving her job was a major factor – but to me, she sounds angry.
That loss of a workplace among friends may’ve unsettled her sense of self. And her old drive to find other part-time work interests, was no longer there.
She may be depressed, too… signalled by less interest in managing the house and shopping for food.
Yoga is how she keeps her mood calm and feels physically healthy.
I believe counselling could help her see other possibilities beyond yoga to regain the ambition, satisfaction, and sense of self-esteem she had in the past.
But it’d be a mistake for you to suggest it. She has to want it for herself.
Yes, I’m sounding soft on a wife who’s seemingly dropped her part in “partnering.”
But you’ve led that approach by being wary of her stubbornness and wanting not to push her away (the fact that you believe that can happen points to her anger).
Ask her what she’d like for the future – start her own yoga classes as a business, for example?
If she’s reluctant to talk, suggest counselling together, to help each other relate better in this new phase.
If she’s not more open in counselling, suggest you both have separate sessions.
I appreciate that your resources are limited, but a community agency offering short-term counselling with affordable fees can be helpful.
Give it a try. Doing nothing is only widening the gap between you two.
Readers’ Commentary The topic of difficult mother-daughter relationships keeps drawing responses (Oct.26):
Reader #1 – “From the daughter’s side of the story, my mom lies, manipulates, and plays the victim in every situation.
“You never know if she’s making up her stories to stir trouble so she can sit back and watch it happen.
“I called her out today for repeatedly changing a story in the same conversation while gossiping about her coworker.
“So now, I don’t want to hear it. She doesn’t accept that her behavior’s harmful and thoughtless. I don’t need her bringing me down.”
Reader #2 – “The daughter’s live-in boyfriend may be influencing her with his own negative attitude toward her mother.
“I’ve seen this with my brother-in-law’s effect on my own sister’s perspective now reflecting his.
“The mum should stop reaching out if her daughter’s response is always rude.
“She should tell her daughter that she’d welcome seeing her but only if she’s in the mood for such a visit.
“She should not let her daughter’s rudeness go unacknowledged.
“It’d be useful if another sibling would find out what’s bothering the daughter, by pointing out how rude she is in front of their mum. This is better than trying to address it in the heat of the moment.
“Maybe the sister’s having difficulties she can’t express in front of Mum, so reacts as if Mum is prying when asking how she’s doing.
“Something’s going on here and there’s a need to get to the bottom of it.”
Tip of the day:
When a partner’s behaviour negatively affects immediate family, it’s crucial to discover the cause.