I’m working hard to save our marriage — I stopped drinking and even went to church! But my wife won’t talk to me. What can I do?

You’re doing everything you can, says our elder. It’s time to get some counseling.

Dear EWC

My wife and I have been married for eight years. We have five children, and the oldest two are my stepchildren. I took up drinking heavily earlier on in the marriage as a result of our failure to really address any of our issues, and that was mostly on my part. My wife has recently told me she wants a separation; she has agreed to stay but not work on anything with us. I recently quit drinking cold turkey two months or so ago to try and work on anything I can, and I have gained a lot of clarity about myself as I’m clear headed now. Neither one of us can financially leave at the time nor do I want to, but I find it very hard to live together and not discuss anything except co-parenting. She has completely shut down. It’s like a light switch flipped off for her. I realize that she is stressed and overwhelmed with parenting for 20 years and my crappy attitude in the past. She tells me in one sentence that she doesn’t want or need anything from me at all then she says things about needing tires on her car. Or she wants me to get her weed (I don’t smoke but she has daily for 25 years). Those are just a few examples. I just find it hard to not do things for my wife. She also stated she would only stay if I agreed to let her have every other weekend to leave without kids and go do her own thing, which I agreed to, but she did not go this weekend. I’m trying to give her space but it’s very hard. I’m watching videos and reading books and even went to church on Sunday. She clearly was irritated that I did when I returned home from service that morning. I’m just trying to get my own clarity in my head. I truly love my wife and want it to work out. We also haven’t been intimate in almost a year. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for me?

BES replies

I am so sorry for your difficult situation. It is terribly hard to live with someone who doesn’t respond the way you want them to or who is unwilling to change.

You seem to be doing everything right short of getting personal counseling for yourself which may be the next step to help you learn to either deal with your current situation or discover the best path forward for you and your family. It seems pretty obvious that you are at a crossroads where a choice has to be made: Either continue living in this difficult situation or have a plan to change things and move forward whether that means separating or making changes in the way you handle the situation.

Is your wife remaining with you solely for financial purposes? What would happen to both of you if you did separate or divorce?

It sounds like you will need at least some discussion with your wife as to what she really wants out of life. She seems like a very unhappy and depressed person who may not be capable of improving her psychological health without some counseling or professional help.

I strongly urge you to get help for yourself and let a professional counselor guide you to make the best decisions for the rest of your life.

Good luck to you.

Letter #: 443182
Category: Marriage

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