I need your help. My husband will not talk to me. We have been married for two years now and from the very beginning, our relationship has not been easy. There always seems to be difficulties to face, be it financial, family drama or work-related. It was our anniversary last week and not only did my husband forget, when I reminded him, he did not even try to do something nice or acknowledge the date.
We barely speak anymore, seeing each other briefly at mealtimes and perhaps an hour or two after we have finished work. During this time, it has come to feel like we are strangers. I appreciate that my husband has to work very long hours and that he is most likely exhausted, but I can no longer ignore the fact that we have grown apart. He refuses to talk or even listen to me when I try to tell him how I feel. Lately, he has been spending a lot of time away during the weekends and he does not tell me where he is going. I am very worried and I suspect he may be having an affair. I am losing hope. I feel so upset that I find it difficult to eat and I am barely sleeping.
What action should I take?
Thank you for your time,
When the person we love most in the world comes to feel like a stranger, it can indeed feel hopeless. It is so very important at this time that you remember to take care of yourself and to ensure that you are prioritising your health and well-being above all else. Just because your relationship is suffering, it does not mean that you must suffer also. Focus your energy on eating healthily and sleeping as best as you can. The emotional impact of this situation is now effecting your capacity to function normally and therefore you are right in the fact that action must be taken. If you are struggling, do not hesitate to seek help from your doctor or from a therapist. The therapy process will allow you the opportunity to explore the depth of your emotions and feelings whilst supporting you through your sense of loss and hopelessness. Confiding in a trusted family member or friend can also help you during this difficult time so that you are not isolated in your worry.
The fact that your husband is reluctant to listen, unable to communicate his feelings to you and is also spending unexplained time away from home does not necessarily indicate that he is having an affair, but it is, of course, a cause for concern. I highly recommend couples counselling for you both. If your husband agrees to attend, the therapeutic process will allow you a safe space in which to communicate and will support the pair of you in navigating your way through the problems that you are contending with.
If your husband refuses to attend, I recommend that you have counselling for yourself, particularly if your appetite and sleep pattern continues to be disrupted. Be mindful that the responsibility of the relationship does not rest solely on your shoulders. Relationship difficulties involve two people and they will not survive on the efforts of one person alone. Has your husband given up on your marriage? Or, is there something else happening that you are unaware of? Take some time to consider what questions you have for him. You mention that when you attempt to tell your husband how you feel, he does not hear you. It might prove constructive in this instance, to try to be as logical as possible with your questions and your general communication with him. Our emotions can often cloud the details we require to take decisive action and can often feel confusing to a partner who finds it difficult to hear us. For the moment, put the ‘‘I feel’’ dialogue to one side and focus on what is it that you want to know? Ask direct and open questions such as where have you been? Or, perhaps most informative of all, do you still want to be in this marriage? Asking such questions are obviously scary as they elicit direct responses. But it is the direct responses that you require Gretchen. The response of his yes or his no will inform how you move forward from here. If your husband’s answer is no, then be mindful that this is not a reflection of you, but of him. It is not you that has failed, but rather, it is your relationship that has failed despite your efforts.
It is also important that you take the time to ask yourself some key questions. You deserve to be in a loving relationship. You deserve to feel special and you deserve to live a healthy, content life. Can this be achieved in your marriage? Is your partner willing to work mutually as hard as you through difficulties, in order to ensure that your relationship not only survives but thrives? Does your husband bring you the happiness that you deserve?
Confronting the big questions will forge your next steps. Be brave and acknowledge that whatever the outcome Gretchen, you alone are strong and you deserve the best. Do not settle for anything less.
Best wishes to you,