I’m a male, 43, married for 12 years to a woman I once loved. We have no children.
She loves her work in scientific research but barely responds when I’ve asked about it.
She’s usually negative when I suggest doing things that I love - e.g., travel (before the pandemic).
I’ve travelled solo several times and felt very annoyed at her at day’s end when I’m alone in my hotel room.
When I ask what she’d like to do together, she’ll just say, “whatever you like.”
Over recent years, dinner conversation became a matter of checking calendars. Our best times before Covid were with a teenage nephew and niece for whom we’ve sometimes been substitute parents when theirs go away.
Then, my wife would become cheerful and relaxed and do whatever the kids wanted, even watching series/movies she’d never watch with me.
I’m thinking that our relationship is coming to an end. Does it sound like that to you?
You’ve constructed a virtual shelter of resentments towards your wife... and it seems she’s done the same.
You each go “inside” to muse on how hurt and neglected you feel.
Counsellors who practice “relational therapy” would say that these resentments, if unrepaired, can lead to contempt towards a partner. The initial “love” shuts down.
But it doesn’t have to go that way. And it can be stopped/changed within yourselves.
The “coaching” approach to improving a relationship can be very helpful.
Canadian certified life coach Bob Lucas says coaching helps people see ways to change their behaviour patterns themselves:
Through the process of being asked questions, “people become more aware of themselves, and automatically more aware of those around them.
“They become more self-confident, see their own strengths, and how they can make better choices.”
Marital counsellors and therapists also ask questions.
My advice as a kick-start, is that you begin asking yourself some of those questions eg. Is there something I can choose to change today that’ll serve me better?
Talk to your wife about this. Maybe she’ll also be interested in digging deeper into herself to find better answers for how you two can have a more satisfying relationship.
If you then seek professional help, counselling, therapy, and/or coaching can each be arranged through online appointments.
Dear Readers - Thank heavens for humour! Though the world appears very bleak during COVID-19 moods, there are still people able to make us hoot with laughter.
One such person is my colleague Vinay Menon who, in his December 16 column, wrote about a recent British survey on household squabbles.
Some 57 percent on the survey’s Cause of Argument Scale, was over one person in the couple not doing the dishes.
Menon suggests that right from a first date, one party has to probingly ask: “After you make a fruit smoothie, do you immediately soak the blender?”
One of his readers, a “love coach” herself, agreed that doing dishes can save a relationship. Menon shared her response with me:
“During Covid, when one can no longer travel, see a friend, see a movie, go to the gym, socialize as a couple, go for dinner or do any of the other fun stuff people do and are stuck inside with one another constantly, they become grumpy and very primitive in their behaviour and are prone to fighting about anything/everything possible within their monotonous lives.
“So Yes, who does the dishes counts!”
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother who wrote about a very troubled relationship with her daughter, (December 16):
Reader – “I felt so sad for the mother. It seemed she raised her daughter with no support. If her daughter’s not a happy person, the easiest target to lash out at is your mom and it shouldn't be that way.
“Maybe the mom could volunteer at a food bank or some other charitable organizations, because the gratefulness she would receive from some needy people would give her the confidence and respect that she needs.”
Ellie: Regarding my suggestion to this lonely, sad Mom that she consider getting a pet “that she could handle and afford to keep,” I now qualify that statement with awareness from a thoughtful volunteer at animal shelters, that a disturbing number of innocent animals are abandoned when would-be owners didn’t carefully assess whether they actually could afford and handle the pets.
Tip of the day:
There are proven approaches to repairing relationship resentments through counselling, therapy or coaching. Start the path to change by asking yourself some important questions.