Mario from Los Angeles, California: Marital Problem Ignored (Q & A)

Dr. Bryce Kaye gives advice to a man with a huge marital problem his wife wants to ignore.Q:  I have been trying to resolve a major marital problem with no success.  It seems that all we do is waste time and energy arguing about old and present issues without getting any positive results. This has been going on for about a year but in the last six months it has taken a much stronger force. If I/We do not find a true solution to our marital problem, then divorce is the only option. We have been married for 23 yrs.

Here is the marital problem: My wife (43yrs.)argues that she has devoted many years to the house and kids and ignored her needs. She claims the kids are old enough now to take care of themselves and that she will now look more after herself. The first thing she did was to lose plenty of weight, mostly through starving since there has not been a decent meal in the house for months. The “kids”( 17, 20 and 23 yrs) continuously make statements about being tired of eating out. She also started going to the gym. Later, all I heard was her need to have fun so she was drinking and going to visit friends. Later it was work ” so much to do” She will go in an hour earlier and get out two hours late, only to return at night. So she was out of the house since 6:30 am until about 10pm, not always but normally.  I put up with this behavior thinking it will pass and is only one of those growing up/growing old phases, but it did not.  The marital problem got worse. She started going out with friends and relatives to casinos and parties, and in numerous occasions (4) she never came home. She would spend the night with them because” they got too drunk to drive” To say the least this disrespect for me , the kids, and my home broke my heart into a million pieces.  I honestly can not recover from this, in my mind I always wonder who she was with and what they did. She claims nothing ever happened -sexually with another man- but I do not believe it for a second.  For months her behavior showed me she was looking for someone, that she was ready and willing to try new relationships.  After a major argument we decided to give our marriage one more try, and we decided to have a party. Everything seemed to be fine, we were dancing, and she was drinking ( I do not drink). At one time I went to check on the inside of the house, found a couple of drunk people, made sure that they were OK, and went back outside, where the party was at. Well, there she was, dancing with another man, whom I did not know nor did she. I got very upset. Did not talk to her for about 4 days, and her attitude was ” I have done nothing wrong and you have a serious personal problem” Finally we argued again and she claims she is not doing anything wrong, and the only one that sees a problem with her behavior is me. What else can I do about what I see as being a critical marital problem? HELP.

A:  Mario.  From the sounds of it I doubt that you and your wife will resolve this marital problem and stabilize your marriage without professional help.  You and I are only guessing at what has led to a change in your wife’s life priorities.  It is not clear that she truly wants to improve the relationship with you.  You also raise up the issue of fairly heavy alcohol use by she and her friends.  I don’t know if that plays a significant factor.  There’s also the history between you and she to which she may now be reacting since the kids are grown.  Then there’s the possibility of an affair.   With all these dynamics, you need a good marriage counselor to spend time with both of you to tease out what’s really going on underneath this marital problem.  This Q & A forum will not be able to do it. – Bryce Kaye

For information about Helen and Bryce’s Love Odyssey marriage retreats visit http://www.odysseymarriageretreats.com  where the strategy behind these couples retreats  is described in detail.

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