A Reader Writes…
My wife left me two months ago, she dropped the bombshell that she no longer had any feelings for me and moved to her mother’s while I was still reeling from the shock. I feel devastated and lost without her in my life, and what is worse is I could have prevented it from ever happening.
I used to run my own business and had some degree of success, then I lost a major client in 2010 and never recovered financially. This left me feeling depressed and lacking confidence, and I was so wrapped up in trying to keep the business afloat I didn’t see the negative effect it was having on my wife.
She had also been getting increasingly depressed due to lack of money, and support from me. She even took jobs herself in order to make ends meet, while I tried to gather scraps of work for my trade.
We have a 4 year old daughter, and I was a terrible father. Even though I was at home a lot. I barely made an effort to interact with her. When I was at my lowest my wife took care of all domestic duties and her depression was declining to a point where it was affecting her health. Of course I see all this now. but when she dropped the bombshell that she didn’t love me any more I just didn’t see it coming.
Now I put it down on paper I can clearly see how neglectful I had been to my family, and fully see why she feels the way she does. Since the day she left me I made a promise to myself to change. I started applying for jobs and exercising regularly. I also have become more active in our daughters well-being and take her to the park regularly and read to her, as well as becoming more involved with her schooling.
After finding your website I bought My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More and found it very useful. It was so helpful to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I did! I have been trying to put the exercises into effect, but although communication between us has improved I still feel like I am losing her. I have acknowledged and made a fulsome apology for everything I did wrong, but it has done little to change her feelings for me.
The only chance we have to talk is when I go round to read our daughter a bedtime story, and if conversation goes any deeper than small talk I get hurt and tearful and she gets angry and goes over everything I did wrong.
I am trying to be more assertive with her, but am afraid that giving her the opportunity to point out my faults is helping her to affirm them, and forget the good times we had together. This week she started becoming more pro-active in leaving me permanently, by transferring account names and moving her possessions out of our home. It’s clear to me her mind is made up, and she will not be talked out of it.
I just wish there was a way I could get our marriage back on track, and repair the rift in our family. I wish there was a second chance so that I could make amends. I am changing, and having her leave me is the biggest wakeup call I’ve ever had. I am physically fitter, and have a new job, that I am enjoying. But I am terrified it is all too little too late. My wife has checked out emotionally.
Is there anything more I can do, or have I burnt my bridges without knowing I had them?
Congratulations on owning up and recognising your mistakes. You have taken some important steps forward but there is a lot more that you do.
1. I wonder if you have understood assertiveness 100%. I’m concerned because it should not be a chance to point out your mistakes. It should be a chance to resolve ONE small issue. I give clients this formula: ‘I can ask, you can say no and we can negotiate’. Read the section on assertiveness again. Perhaps, the problem is that you’re trying to solve the whole situation rather than, for example, whether you can take your daughter to the swings and slides.
2. You can keep working on yourself. I would start by becoming the best DAD possible. I can’t tell you how that softens women’s hearts (and it will make you feel better about yourself). So please read I Love You but You Always Put Me Last as it will help focus your efforts. I would also like you to read the other books suggested in the back of My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More. When you’re down, rather than dwelling on how far you’ve got to go, think: what can I learn from this? (My books will help).
3. You’ve identified the key problem in your letter. Every time, you talk about anything beyond the weather, you start to cry. This makes her angry because she feels guilty and nasty. Worse still, she will not respect you and you’re too emotional to acknowledge her anger. So what should you do?
4. I don’t want you to bury your feelings – that’s what got you into this mess – but to identify them to yourself. Tell yourself: ‘I am feeling sad’. It will help down the volume a few notches. Take a few deep breaths and witness the feeling. You could even tell your wife: ‘I feel sad when you….. because….’ If you find this difficult because you have never thought about your feelings, start to keep a feeling diary (record eight emotions and the triggers each day). It will start to become second nature and you will be more comfortable with your feelings (and by dint more comfortable with hers – even the angry ones).
Finally, whenever you’re down tell yourself: ‘It will take time to turn myself round and for my wife to notice and then believe in the changes. OK, my wife has checked out emotionally but she can check back in again.’ Don’t put yourself under pressure by trying to rush (and then bursting into tears because you’re not superman).