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My Wife Doesn’t Know if She Wants to Be with Me

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From a young woman in the U.S.: Over the past 2 years my wife has left me about 6 times and came back each time. It’s always about the same thing and around the same time. She’s lost herself, she doesn’t know if she wants to be with me, she loves me ONLY when I’m with her. I’m at my wit’s end.

I told her I’d file for divorce and she tells me she doesn’t want a divorce. So I’m a little confused as to what to do or what is going on. She resents me for things that I have nothing to do with and things that I’ve done in the past, but each time she left me and came back we were not allowed to talk about it and just had to move past it. Which I told her was not a good idea and would lead to resentment. I have forgiven her each time. I just don’t know what to do anymore. Her mood and attitude and feelings change at the drop of a hat.

My Wife Doesn’t Know if She Wants to Be with Me

Answered by on -

A.

Two things occur to me: One is that she doesn’t want to divorce you, but maybe she wants you to divorce her! Is it possible that she can’t manage to leave but is (perhaps unconsciously) setting you up to do the leaving? She must know that the relationship can’t deepen and strengthen if she isn’t willing to talk about the issues that are troubling to her. It may also be that she would rather see herself as a “victim” (a person who has been left), rather than see herself as a “victimizer” (a person who leaves and hurts someone who loves them). She may not understand that she doesn’t need to take either role. Reasonable people can decide their relationship isn’t sustainable and can separate amicably.

The other possibility is that she has an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. The fact that her moods and feelings change so radically points to that possibility. If that’s the case, an assessment by a qualified mental health professional would help determine what is wrong and how best to address it.

Both possibilities require her cooperation to fix. The relationship as it is cannot last. If she can’t bring herself to leave by divorce (instead of periodically disappearing) it is important that she be honest about that so the two of you can separate without adding more pain. If she can’t be, then you are left to make the decision.

If there is a possibility of illness, she needs to be willing to get that assessment and to perhaps follow recommendations to make it possible for her to be in a loving relationship with someone who loves her.

In either case, your challenge is to ask yourself how much longer you are willing to be buffeted back and forth by her behavior. Unless she is willing to cooperate in changing the terms of your relationship, you are always going to be walking on eggshells so she won’t “leave” again. That’s got to be very hard on you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Wife Doesn’t Know if She Wants to Be with Me

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). My Wife Doesn’t Know if She Wants to Be with Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/07/27/my-wife-doesnt-know-if-she-wants-to-be-with-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 Jul 2020 (Originally: 27 Jul 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 24 Jul 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.