I have been married for thirty years. I have always supported my husband to do whatever he wanted to do in the way of living, career or education. I love him very much.Five years ago, I had the opportunity to go to China to teach and did. I fell in love with my students and the country. My husband also went the first time and he liked it very much. I have gone back without him for the last four years because he has financial obligations and family obligations here.We have talked about how important this is in my life and he agrees that it is fine to go. Yet when I am there he becomes silent. This year I had to come back because he threatened me with a divorce because he says he is too lonely.I do not understand this two facedness. I believe in what I am doing and accomplishing there. I am just asking him to understand what I need to do for awhile but he sees only that his comfort zone is being compromised.Can you advise me in anyway? I am beginning to feel as if, if I want to keep this relationship then I must give in to his demand to remain at home. I feel that I am not expressing myself well here because there is so much more.Sorry to take up your time.Thank you.
The first thing that I noticed about your letter was your apology for taking up my time. You have a selfless aspect to your personality, and it is precisely this part of your personality that has lead to the difficulty that you find yourself in now.Here’s what’s happened. You sacrificed yourself for many years by putting your husband ‘s career and education ahead of your own needs and wants. Without consciously realizing it, your self sacrifice had strings attached. In your mind you were thinking, after all I’ve done for him, ‘he owes me big time.’All selfless people, caretakers, and rescuers are actually starving inside for love; they give with the secret yearning that they will be given back to. When their secret wishes aren’t met, they experience righteous indignation and say to themselves, ‘After all I’ve done for you, the least you could do is. . .’ Sound familiar?To make matters worse, you, like all sacrificers, expected your husband to be a mind reader who would divine your unspoken expectation that he reward your selflessness with a nice dose of selflessness of his own. Expecting him to accept that you stay away from home for an extended period of time is to ask him to be selfless.Keep in mind that your husband never had a clue that your self sacrifice came with strings. He never knew that he was incurring an enormous debt to you. You need to see that yours was a one-sided, unspoken pact. Because he never agreed to the pact, you need to see that are starting from scratch.What you gave to him was your choice. He doesn’t owe you anything. He doesn’t need to make anything up to you. You simply need to come up with a plan that works for both of you.You say that you want to be able to stay for a while. Since you’ve already been away for a long time, it sounds like you intend to stay away indefinitely. Your behavior sends out a strong message to your husband that says, ‘I don’t care how you feel.’ I assume that this angry behavior stems from the years of self sacrifice, which lead to a lot of pent up resentment.You need to own the fact that your self sacrifice was your choice. No one made you do it. Making this mental shift should release a lot of your anger. When your anger diminishes, you should feel more willing to talk with him like a loving wife and come up with a plan that works for both of you.Right now you aren’t relating to him like a wife who loves her husband and who wants to keep her marriage. You come across like your work is more important than your marriage. In fact, you seem more concerned with winning this battle than saving the marriage. For you, coming home means that you lost, that he forced you to your knees.What does this say about the state of your marriage? People who love each other want to be together and spend time together. Your energy seems focused on winning this struggle instead of behaving lovingly toward your spouse.I have given you a lot to think about. Above all, you need to revamp your view of what love is about. You aren’t supposed to sacrifice yourself and then expect sacrifice in return.You are both supposed to find a balance in which you take proper care of yourselves without annihilating the other. You are supposed to be giving to the other without annihilating yourselves.You are going to need quite a shovel to dig your way out of this. I think a marriage counselor ‘s help will be needed.