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David H.
David H., BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 164
Experience:  Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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I am trying to save my marriage. My wife left 8 months ago

Resolved Question:

I am trying to save my marriage. My wife left 8 months ago and we have 4 children together. She tells me she is no longer in love with me.... Is there hope? I took her for granted and failed to give her the attention and affection she deserved. and I want a chance to show her I am the same man she fell in love with and am capable of being a good husband. I can't give up just yet.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  David H. replied 3 years ago.

Duddy :

Welcome, I am a professional counselor, Behavioral-Consultant and relationship expert.

Duddy :

Do you mind if we chat briefly so that I can better understand your situation and question?

Customer:

sure

Duddy :

I'm a pro marriage counselor, so you know. I have a bias for trying to save marriages and get them healthy again.

Duddy :

I actually have an important commitment for the next 15 to 20 minutes. I'll be back to chat then. Sorry for the delay. If you don't mind giving me some more details about your current relationship, how often you still see your wife and talk with her. How you got to where you are now, what she's doing in life etc...that would be very helpful. Back shortly.

Duddy :

...

Customer:

I have been accused of being controlling and that I am not appreciative. I can see it now that I look back. I work 3 jobs and I will admit I did not give her the emotional attention she needed. She says she is done. Refused any type of marriage counseling. I have gone on my own to several sessions. What am I to try now

Customer:

I only see her about 3-4 times a month. She called me controlling because I begged her not to take her new job at a maximum security prison as a nurse. 2 months later, I was not good enough. I came home 2 days before Thanksgiving and saw that she was getting a text from another man. I startled her when I asked her who he was. She packed up and left that night and has not been back home. Told me as she left that she will pick up the kids in a week. Claims he was a friend but was very sketchy on how long she has been in contact. She lied about his skin color as well. I kinda know where that was going there! Come to find out he was was a convicted felon that just got out a couple years ago and she defended him and had more contact than the father of her children. I am always gone with work, but I have 4 kids to support.

Duddy :

I'm back. Please finish typing...I'll read.

Customer:

It is like she became a different person and forgot hat was important after starting at the prison. She used that night as an excuse to leave us. She is having a hard time on her own and I help her a lot. She tells me I make her uncomfortable if I talk about our relationship. When I asked if our children were at least worth trying marriage counseling....... her immediate response was "nope, I'm done: We have been together 11 years and I will only give it up after I have tried everything possible. I want my children to be in a good home environment. She tells me that they are just kids and they will adapt and " get over it". She was not like this 10 months ago. It was like she got tired of being a mom and a wife. This is not like her and I don't get the sudden change.

Duddy :

That is a very difficult scenario you're describing. It must be very difficult to be in your situation doing what you're doing and going through what you're going through.

Customer:

any ideas what she is thinking

Duddy :

No I have no idea what she is thinking. I can only work with what people tell me. I try to get highly distressed couples even separated ones, to evidence-based marital counseling. But you say she refuses counseling.....

Customer:

yes

Duddy :

Marriages usually fail because core relationship needs are not met. This leads to emotional, pain, fear and reactive anger.

Duddy :

If you can learn to hear and meet each others needs then those reactive or secondary emotions are replaced with connection, a sense of emotional safety and re-connection...

Duddy :

I believe that as long as there is not serious abuse or addiction problems, that any couple can fall in love again. I've seen really bad situations turned around in my counseling office. The marital therapy research is pretty clear in this sense also.

Duddy :

Problem is, how do you get her open up for an emotional re-connection?

Customer:

She has a history of low self esteem and I am sure the inmates have made her feel good about herself. She hears compliments all day and the n has to return to reality at the end of the day. I cannot compete with that. She will realize one day but I am afraid it will be too late by then. I have tried everything I can think of.

Customer:

She is very stubborn

Customer:

and pride......... won't admit she is wrong and keeps problems to herself. Always has

Duddy :

Self esteem can be repaired through effective marital therapy, unless there are mental health level issues. Even then, with a serious emotional or behavioral disorder, these can be addressed as part of an intervention. Your problem as described in what you've written here is: How do you get her to counseling?

Duddy :

The other problem may be that if she's having an relationship with another man, then her needs are being met in that relationship. Again, if you meet her needs, then she will not have frustrated needs that someone else can exploit.

Duddy :

Problem here is the same. How can you get a corrective exchange going. My only suggestion would be something like 7 sessions of eft marital therapy (the best in the world marriage therapy).

Customer:

EFT?

Duddy :

Emotion Focused Therapy for couples. When I say best in the world therapy, I mean most researched and validated. It gets incredible results in precisely this problem area of helping emotionally disconnected couples re-bond emotionally...let me get you a couple of links.

Duddy :

http://www.iceeft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=79

Duddy :

Here's a book you can probably find in your library by the main researcher:

Duddy :

http://www.holdmetight.net/

Duddy :

This therapy with a fully trained EFT therapist is a viable strategy, but again, how to get your wife to attend?

Customer:

good question. I can always tell her I wont sign the papers unless she goes to this

Customer:

I am paying for the divorce as it is anyway

Duddy :

I've had some luck with really disconnected couples who are basically presenting as "we are no longer in love" "we don't like each other" "he/she is having an/a emotional/sexual affair" and "we are getting a divorce".

Customer:

I will give it a shot. Thank you. Any other suggestions

Duddy :

I suggest that they go to an eft therapist just be sure, and to get an expert third party opinion.

Duddy :

Ok. I hope this was helpful. You may want to get a copy of the book for your wife.

Duddy :

When I work with couples I emphasize the positive, memories and experiences and get positive behavioral momentum going through behavior change exchanges. Once the couple is stabilized I refer to EFT.

Customer:

I will try anything. I think she is in denial of the outcome of her actions. I make it a point to bring up the good times. She only focuses on the bad

Customer:

FRUSTRATING

Duddy :

It has sometimes helped in really bad situations to say lets go to EFT, see if we are really done and if so get advise on how to separate and support the kids help them "adapt" with expert direction. The EFT therapist is trained to quickly repair the relationship emotionally. The disconnect partner goes to therapy thinking "I'm coming here to end the marriage" and leaves saying "my marriage is saved and I love my partner."

Customer:

One last question and I want you to be honest. If she says she is no longer in love and hides her emotions from me and shows no concern............. could that be her way of dealing with all this... hiding feelings and not allowing herself to feel emotions

Customer:

will that build up inside and hit her hard one day

Duddy :

The criticism/defense cycle of communication in marriage predicts divorce with almost 100% accuracy. That's because criticisms badly express frustrated core-relationship needs. Meet the need and there's not criticism. The trick is to communicate without criticism. Use "I" language and ask for what you need.

Duddy :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbJPaQY_1dc

Duddy :

I'm going to read and respond to your last question.

Customer:

So I need to remain positive and agree with her and avoid an argument

Duddy :

Again, I can't answer such a question because I don't know both of you enough. I haven't spent several hours in counseling with you face to face. Respectfully, XXXXX XXXXX may actually have resulted from your lack of relationship maintenance and communication skills as much as from her own.

Customer:

What is your advice on communicating with her now that we live apart. I know I am on eggshells. last item i swear... gotta get my little kids off to school.

Duddy :

It's not so much as remain positive but focus on expressing needs and primary emotions, instead of toxic secondary or reactive emotions like anger. First we get sad or scared then we get mad and try to defend ourselves. In most cases it's about expressing the underling need to feel loved and to feel safe and the tender emotions that go with those needs. Perhaps more importantly to hear these needs and feelings in our partner. Hearing, validating, comforting and needs meeting makes a partner more responsive to our needs. Anger/criticism shuts people down.

Duddy :

Again, I can't give you definitive advice on how to communicate with her right now because I don't know you both enough. I could recommend something that would make things worse. I would try to get to a well trained evidence-based marriage therapist. I'd try to avoid topics or exchanges that shut her down. Beyond that I can't say because I don't know all the facts. For example, is she in a relationship, is there work stress? There are hundreds of variables to be taken into account when giving practical advice. A well trained marital therapist can do this. I really wish I could give some advice that would solve the problems here. Others may claim to do so. I can't without much more information....

Customer:

I respect that answer. Thank You for Your time and I hope you have a great day

Duddy :

Read Sue Johnson's book and any of John Gotmann's books as well, I'd say they are the top relationship exerts in the world. Let me get you one more link. The more you know about marital transformation the more you will be empowered to act and decide...

Customer:

thanks

Duddy :

http://www.gottman.com/

Duddy :

You are very welcome. I wish I could have been of more help.

Customer:

It was good info

Duddy :

Ok. I really hope things work out for you and your family. Take care.

Duddy :

...

David H., BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 164
Experience: Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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