A couple have come for counseling. Their marriage is breaking down. The wife is terrified he will ask for divorce. They seem to have fallen out and there are arguments and fights. The conflicts have escalated and there is a lot of unhappiness in the relationship. The families are upset, but the couple need to sort out the issue.
Both complain a lot of pain and hurts have been caused by the other. The wife wants the relationship to continue, the husband feels too much has happened and he is not sure he can continue in the relationship. The wife is upset over her husband’s state of withdrawal. She feels the marriage is important to her, it should be for him too. He needs to let the past be the past and give the relationship another chance. He says for sometime the relationship has been too acrimonious and he has been hurt terribly.
The wife was able to talk about her marriage. It was very obvious she is fully in love with him. She feels she has no life without him. She cannot see beyond him. Maybe she is suffocating him and herself with her love? And now that he has withdrawn from her, she is suffering too much pain because of this very love.
She went over her marriage, and gave me instances of how they have weathered a lot. They have seen many ups and downs in their marriage and they have children too. Together they have cared for each other’s parents. They have a large circle of friends and they both are working professionals. It is just that the relationship has run into rough weather.
I asked her if she could focus on herself for a change and de-focus from him? She was into what pleases him, what he likes, how she has always cared for him, and how he did not like her leaving him alone and going out of town, etc. She wanted the marriage to work and said she was willing to work with him to ease his pain. She wanted him to reconsider the marriage and give it another chance. She was sure they could work out something.
She slowly started to get angry and say these years of marriage needs to mean something. Yes, things are wrong now, but they can be set right. When she is willing to work on the marriage, why is he withdrawing? I liked this anger. This is a good sign.
She seems to have given him the majority share of her love. Her children and family do figure in this love, but the majority is reserved for him. And there is no love for self. She told me she loves him a lot, she cannot lose him. She appeared terrified he would leave her and not return. She acknowledges he has hurt her, and she has felt this withdrawal before too. Whether it is genuine, or her feeling alone, I do not know. But she has been insecure and she sounded hopelessly lost.
I tried to get her interested in gathering her thoughts and seeing how she can turn to other areas in her life so that this pain is not so intense. She needs to start loving herself; start seeing herself as a person capable of handling crisis and see herself as self worthy. She needs to pull on her inner strength and not make him the custodian of her happiness.
She has invested all her happiness in his happiness. This extreme measure can hurt when one feels the withdrawal. This is what has happened to her now. The pain is so intense, she is literally gasping. You need to reserve a core for self, otherwise when there is a break, the sense of desolation will be devastating. I hope she is able to reduce her emotional dependence on him. She is able to recognize such dependence can bring intense pain and try to be more independent. There is no other dependence, only emotional.
She is barely able to focus on her work and this could affect her professional life. Her family is suffering with her, they feel very sad to see her so disheartened. She needs to stop leaning so much and start to stand alone more. When you are emotionally secure, you are not dependent on someone only for your happiness, then you will not feel such intense pain. There will be pain, after all someone leaving you after being with you for so long can hurt. But you will not be paralyzed and be able to pick yourself up and move ahead.
She has made her offer. Hopefully he will accept and reunite. But in case he does not, she should not go to pieces and abandon herself. She needs to be able to weather this pain and allow time to help her heal. For this she needs to know boundaries need to be respected and self love is essential. Only when you love yourself, will others love you.