My wife (33) and I (34) have been together 14 years, married for seven, with a five-year-old son and one-year-old daughter.
Our relationship’s always been easy/natural from moving in together, to starting careers, buying a house, getting married, having children.
Then, eight months ago (mid-Covid, her maternity leave, and me starting working from home), my wife expressed she was struggling to be happy.
She felt taken-for-granted to watch the kids, make supper, etc. I felt horrible about it. I began doing more around the house and made sure she had every opportunity to do things for herself again – like go to the gym, for walks, connect with her girlfriends, etc.
Things improved partly. I gave her space to work through transitioning from a full-time mom to a woman in the workplace again with interests, a personality, etc. She was re-developing her image and finding our new norm.
We’ve continued talks over months and how we’re feeling has become clearer. Recently she said she loved me as a person, as a parenting partner, as the father of her kids.
But she’s struggling to find the “in-love” feeling towards me. Apparently, she’s felt this for some years but ignored those feelings. Yet I’ve never loved her more.
We’ve not prioritized our marriage since having kids and we’re paying the price now. I want to fix the problems immediately but she needs time to process and work things out. She also isn’t comfortable with going to therapy.
Is this normal at our stage and do you have any tips? I’m trying to assure we do more as a couple to help us connect and find that love again.
Missing My Wife
Your wife’s busy - at home, at work, parenting with you, re-connecting with colleagues and friends.
She’s experiencing one of the great - and overwhelming - life changes, especially for women, from pregnancy through birthing a child, to responsibilities of parenting to having another baby then re-entering the work force.
Consider the emotional and hormonal changes through that cycle plus the impact of expectations of her being a loving, happy, wife.
You’re being very supportive, that’s clear. But you can only experience a fraction of those adjustments she’s making.
You need to recognize that her reactions have a background, upbringing and long-ingrained beliefs that have nothing to do with yours or your different ways. That’s why over-communicating doesn’t always work.
Hopefully, someone other than you will tell her that she’s avoiding therapy because she’s afraid of it. She wants changes for herself but fears hearing or being reminded of things she won’t like.
A course of private time with an experienced counsellor (easily found online) will help her place all these life changes in perspective.
She’ll learn that it’s hard to focus on being “in love” when she’s reeling from one lifestyle to another, still trying to find her place in each.
She’ll also learn that it’s not uncommon for couples at your stage to have to turn on an adjustment-switch. Insight from therapy will help her understand her feelings aren’t unusual while she’s still seeking security in her several roles.
Love her, and stay supportive, but let her find her own comfort level in this new phase. However, if she keeps refusing therapy, I’m an advocate of going yourself, talking out the situation with a counsellor and telling your wife what you’ve learned about yourself.
Then leave it up to her. She wants that agency for finding her own clarity, herself.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the “surprised” children whose father left the townhouse to their step-mother (January 4):
“My beloved first wife died at 43. I remarried 21 years later.
“Two of my kids hate my wife because they think she and her daughter will inherit my house. Actually, if I die first, she’ll have use of it for her lifetime and then it’ll go to my kids... which they don't believe!
“My parents both died in a plane wreck at 34. My sister and I were raised by our maternal grandmother who left everything to her surviving children. We’ve both survived very nicely.
“When my first wife's parents died, they left everything to their daughters, nothing for my kids, their grandchildren.
“This doesn't bother me but I feel badly for my kids. Yet many people never inherit anything and live happy, successful lives.
“Your advice-seeker's stepchildren should suck it up and be kind to their late father's wife.”
Tip of the day:
When life changes overshadow your “love” feelings, deal with the changes.