My wife of five years and I (together for ten) have been having problems, which started with an event out of our control, two years ago.
I believe it began with my wife’s slide into depression (it happened once before, a couple of years into our relationship).
I know that I'm overly critical sometimes, that I work too much, and that I'm not as romantic as I could be. I've tried to improve in all those areas.
Lately I'm having trouble caring and trying any more, which isn't helping. Several times, one of us has said that we don't want to be in the relationship anymore.
We've agreed to have marriage counselling before making a decision like that, although getting my wife to that agreement was a struggle.
A few really big issues are causing us problems. I'd like to find a cheaper apartment and sell our expensive vehicle so that we can afford to do more travelling (something we both really enjoy) and be less concerned about money in general.
But my wife doesn't want to let go of these things. I think it's because she feels her self-image is tied to having them. She pressured me into getting them in the first place, along with a dog I don't want, but end up taking care of the most.
However, my wife has told me that she'd consider suicide if I left. She also says really mean things like, "You're a little bitch," just because I'm trying to share my feelings with her in a way that isn't anger.
I'm self-confident enough to brush that off a few times, but it's not easy to hold back from saying mean things back or getting really angry – I admit that I have a temper that I keep on a very tight leash.
I’ve also said things in anger, too – but I try to limit it. I'm always the one to apologize and try to make up after a fight (and always have been).
But she acts like it's all my fault and that she deserves the apology.
I've suggested that some individual counseling might be a good idea, but she doesn't want that, and has been taking anti-depression medication for a couple of months.
I don't know how much longer I can be in this relationship, but I don't know if I can end it either. I'd be utterly crushed if she did anything to herself because I left.
I do still genuinely love her despite everything, although I'm seeing less of a future together every time something happens.
Looking for Options
The most important option is for you two to get out of your silos of negativity and blaming and get to the marriage counselling that’s crucially needed.
Book an appointment NOW, as there’s way too much time-wasting going on with deciding who has the worst personality aspects, and which problem is the most serious – sell the car, move, and/or give up the dog.
When a partner threatens suicide, travelling together isn’t a long-term solution.
Almost all couples say things in anger or desperation when their relationship is fragile. But suicide-talk is an alarm and you need professional help immediately.
Once you’re in an ongoing process of couples’ counselling, you can raise again, in the session, whether your wife, or both of you need individual therapy. With this second depression, it would seem wise for at least her to undergo.
Important: Alert her anti-depressant prescribing doctor that she’s threatened suicide.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the wife who’s "Done" (Oct. 12):
Reader – “I felt she’d tried hard enough already. Her husband dismissed her concerns. She distanced herself from her in-laws’ toxicity while encouraging him to still see his family.
“The husband sees this from only his perspective, "lack of sex," and not from hers of wanting validation and support.
“Her mental health has suffered. Her husband chose to "blame her and lack of sex."
“She didn't get to this point without many tears and realizing she was on her own here and had to do what she needed to do for her well-being.
“Only when confronted with separation is he feeling any stress and he responds by blaming her.
“Separation doesn't mean divorce. It distances both of them from the brink, where they can explore whether the marriage is a true partnership.
From a Long-Married Husband
Ellie – A thoughtful perspective.
Tip of the day:
When marital fights include depression/suicidal threats, get therapy fast and alert the person’s doctor.