Help saving marriage of 3.5 years?

My wife and I have been married for 3.5yrs and dating for 2 years before that. She recently said she was unhappy and wanted to end things (our marriage not her life or anything that drastic)

I was blown away by this news and asked why. She said that since day 1 she has lied to herself and everyone else around her about her needs and wants in order to cater to my happiness. This was not due to me bullying or anything like that, I think she did this due to a past bad relationship where he didn't care for what she wanted and she learned to cater to him at her own expense. I never would want this and want to know what things she feel she is missing so we can work on them together.

She agreed to marriage guidance but says she wants a 2 month time limit to show improvement or it would be over. I am fine with this and want to use this time to learn what things she has hidden and see if they match with what our marriage can provide.

She says she wants a little space and has moved into the spare room. I am devastated by this and want to know what I should do - I don't want to back off so much that she starts thinking of us as separated and starts making future single plans, but I also don't want to smother her so much that it backfires on me.

She is not talking to me about these things yet and I think she might be waiting for this first guidance session we have looked into. Any advice greatly appreciated as I am in a very sad place right now and want to use this 2 months as best as possible to give us a chance to see if our marriage can work, I don't want to start over as I have found that special someone and just want the chance to see if we can address her needs together but can't do that if she won't talk to me and the clock is ticking!

:-(

Updates:
I am 33 and my wife is 27 by the way. We have no children but have had a dog for 2.5 yrs
Thank you for your advice so far. I have read it and hope it helps when we go along to try marriage guidance. There are some good points in each of your 3 answers and I will see if I can use them to help.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • This is a very tricky situation, and I am sending you good thoughts as you try to handle it.

    The fact that you are seeking advice is good. You sound like a really nice guy, who is genuinely scared and shocked by the news that his wife wants to leave. Clearly, you did not see this coming in any way. However, this makes me wonder quite why you didn't see this bombshell coming. Were there really no signs? Have things genuinely been completely rosy? Or have there been arguments, difficulties and problems that you have ignored? Few people make big, lifechanging decisions like this completely spontaneously, on the spur of the moment. At the very least, there has been a mammoth communication breakdown between yourself and your wife about the state of your relationship; at worst there has been a lot of arguing lately. The blame for this lies at both of your doors: she may not have communicated her true wishes and needs very well, but were you ready to listen, even when she was trying?

    Your wife sounds like she is in complete crisis. You say that she is complaining that she has put all of her life to one side for you, and that in previous relationships she has been used to catering to male needs to the exclusion of her own wellbeing. Now, she needs to be ready to bear some responsibility for this behaviour. You are not a telepath, and you should not be expected to know her desires and needs without her communicating them. Partly, therefore, her lack of fulfilment is her own fault. However, is it also not partly your own fault? Were you not all-too-ready to be cared for by her? Did you really stop and think that she might have things that she also wanted to achieve in life, or were you blissfully happy watching TV while she uncomplainingly did all the household chores?

    The one thing you need to do right now is to create an environment in which 2 things happen. Firstly, she needs to feel able to express her pain to you, and to feel that you understand her perspective. This means putting aside ideas of blame (which will lead to arguments and discord) and listening to each other. And by 'listen' I don't mean 'hear and respond'. I mean that you have to be ready to climb into your wife's skin, and really try to see things from her point of view, even if this means accepting some hard home truths about your own behaviour for the past few years. Compassion, sympathy, and a real attempt to understand are needed. Equally, she needs to be able to forgive you, and understand that you are trying your best to remedy the situation.

    Secondly, you need to create an environment that feels different, and allows her to express her creativity, her desires and her needs. This may mean being ready to make some real sacrifices on a daily basis, like doing your share of housework so she has time and energy to devote to herself.

    I am glad that you are seeking professional guidance with this. I wish you good luck!

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What Girls Said 2

  • first of all I'd like to say I'm so sorry to read this.

    i recently broke up with my boyfriend of a year and its been horrible, I can't imagine a potential break up of an almost 6 year relationship.

    you need to sit her down and ask her what she really wants. that's the only way you're going to be able to do what she wants. ask her, and make it clear that you're willing to do anything to save your relationship. tell her how much she means to you. if she won't talk to you, why not write a letter explaining/asking and leave it on her pillow or something?

    remind her of the good times, what did you do at the beggining of your relationship? was there anywhere special you went? why not take her there again? why not watch a favourite movie together? do something that shows you really love her, and know her. little romantic gestures will make her feel wanted.

    good luck :) anything else just let me know, I'm very willing to help x

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  • i am very sorry to hear this. the breakdown of a marriage is incredibly heartbreaking... to both parties no matter who the instigator is. I think you're being incredibly mature about this and you must thank the Lord that this is happening before you decided to have children.

    unfortunately, moving into another bedroom is a sign that things for her are no longer mendable. she is going to go for marriage counselling only to please you but I suspect that she has made up her mind and she really isn't going to go back on her decision. summing up the courage to say this to you must have been hard for her and now she's made the decision, she won't look back. your story sounds familiar to me. that's why I pretty much know what's coming next. the other sign is that she has given you a time limit which she knows is unachievable to mend the marriage breakdown. it requires more time than that. for sure, she has pretty much made up her mind.

    now of course your situation might be different and marriage counselling minght work in those 2 months. who knows? but I can assure from experience, counselling takes longer. also she sounds like she needs seperate counselling herself. I don't doubt that you both love each other. noone says marriage is easy and it doesn't come with a booklet. if she is serious about trying to make it work then the first step is to realise that this problem won't be solved in 2 months. the next step is to go back into the bedroom. the next step is to commit to marriage guidance help that you get.

    if things don't work out, you need to realise that you srea both still young enough to find more suitable partners and you might end up being the best of friends in years to come.

    good luck with the counselling.

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