Dr. Love,I am a 32 yr old married man with 2 children, and love my wife. She continues to say she wants to leave me because she isn’t happy, but in the next breath she says she will work at the marriage (she’ll give it 6 months).every time I bring up the conversation about working out problems she then says she wants to leave and doesn’t love me. But at the end of the talk she says she’ll give it the 6 months again. Is there anything I could do to try to discuss the problems without getting her to want to leave? And for her to beginning loving and working together to solve the problems?
The first thing I noticed about your situation is that you are being quite passive. Your wife refuses to work on the relationship, and yet you continue to stay with her. Sitting by and allowing her to call the shots, if, as you will soon understand, is actually keeping you stuck.The next thing you need to know is that no pattern continues unless it meets the needs and gratifies both partners. What kind of gratification could she be getting by leaving you in limbo? I sense that she is getting a lot of pleasure by leaving you dangling. Without knowing it, you are gratifying her by permitting her to continue torturing you in this way. Said another way, your passivity gives her license to keep jerking your chain.If you want this pattern to stop, you need to remove the pleasure that she derives from it. To stop the pattern, you are going to need to understand how you are being gratified or satisfied through the current situation just as it is.Are you used to being left hanging?; if so, familiar pain is gratifying in the sense that we humans take pleasure in sticking with what we know. Are you afraid to lose her? Is being with her in this unsatisfying relationship better than the unknown? Are you afraid to be alone? Are you addicted to being tortured because you think that you deserve to be punished (people who feel guilty and arrange to be mistreated are usually punishing themselves for their own buried anger! ).Identify what you gain by staying in this impasse; then resolve your fear of taking a stand. Your taking charge rather than following her lead will move you forward by either propelling her into therapy with you or prompting the end of the relationship.Obviously, you need to be decided that you are ready for whatever happens before you take your stand. When you are ready to take charge, you can start by replaying her behavior back to her by saying, ‘You say you want to work on the marriage and give it six months, and then when I ask you to do so, you refuse and say you want to leave and don’t love me. We are going nowhere. ‘Another way of taking charge would be to join her position. When she says she wants to leave, you could join her by saying, I think that’s a good idea. She will be shocked if you do this, because you will be showing her that she can no longer torture you with this threat. When she sees that threats won’t get to you any longer, she will forced to get off the dime and work on the relationship.I am not at all sure that she wants to leave. If she did, she’d have been long gone. Your first step is to remove the gratification that she gets from leaving you hanging and threatening you with her leaving. Once this is done, you will move forward.