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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1696
Experience:  Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
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My wife of 15 years moved out in September. We have three

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My wife of 15 years moved out in September. We have three children, ages 2, 4, and 16. Initially, she assured me that that move out was temporary. A few weeks ago she told me that she never wants to come back. She has had a difficult childhood and comes from a broken home. She told me today that is is unable to sustain lasting relationships. She feels that she is a loner and is most happy being alone. We still share a lot of love between us and I feel she is not completely sure of her decision. My little ones cry frequently for there mama. Any advice on the situation would be much appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Keane replied 1 year ago.

Dr.Keane :

Hi, I can help you today. I am sorry to hear about your situation and you should know that by being in therapy you are doing the "right thing". Is she going to therapy alone as well as with you? She is avoiding because she is afraid and that is quite understandable, especially if she comes from a difficult childhood and broken home. She may never have addressed the impact of her earlier family situation and it is surfacing now. That is not unusual. This is a process and it's going to take time and understanding. Right now the best thing you can do is validate how she is feeling, let her know you hear her and you are ready to stand by her through the process no matter what the outcome.

Dr.Keane :

I am sorry no one was here when you were online. I look forward to your response and thoughts.

Customer:

Well thanks for the quick reply. I truly love her and want her to be okay. My concern is she is pulling further away and becoming more emphatic about belonging alone. She says she is like a shell and unable to make emotional connections. I do see the toll this is taking on all those around her. She feels she shouldn't come back to make me happy. She has indicated that she is happier alone. As for therapy, we have seen the same therapist for five years - alone together etc. We have had a pretty normal relationship up to this point. I am very confused. I do not want to loose her.

Dr.Keane :

It probably took her a long time and a lot of courage to leave, this is not, as you probably realize, something that she just decided. Your concern about her pulling away is valid, however, she has made her voice heard, something she may never have known how to do in the past. Now the even tougher work begins. You might want to find another therapist for yourself to gain a newer more objective perspective on you versus the "couple" you current therapist knows. That is just a suggestion I would give to anyone I have seen as a "couple" and wanted to be seen individually.

Dr.Keane :

When you go to therapy as a couple you need to talk about the issues she is avoiding. If she is suffering from depression it needs to be addressed. My suggestion to you would be to validate that you hear her, let her know respect her decision but at the same time you have the right to express how you feel as well. Don't avoid talking about this, you can do it in the safety of couple's therapy. There are also concerns about the children that need to be discussed together, it is very confusing to the younger ones I am sure. Unfortunately there is no easy solution to what your are going through, it's time consuming and very stressful on the entire family. I hope this information gives you some direction and insight. Please let me know if I can be of further help.

Customer:

Do you think I should just accept the fact that it is over? I feel like I keep clinging to shred of hope that will will always be together. We have been through so much more than most people go thru in their lives. I am afraid that I may be in denial. Do you suggest I back off and let the chips fall as they may? When I see her I usually break down in tears and tell her how hurt I am. My therapist says I suffer from a fear of abandonment, stemming from an abusive childhood. Can you suggest any coping mechanisms? I greatly appreciate your advice.

Dr.Keane :

I am going to preface this comment by saying there is always hope. If you are in denial, that's a normal reaction. It's disbelief that after all you have gone through in your life that this could happen. As far as backing off, I would, that does not mean you are giving up it means you are respecting and accepting her decision, When you fall apart and keep reminding her how hurt you are you will find her backing away from any conversation or interaction with you. She is going to anticipate your reaction to seeing her and it could really shut her down. You should try and be calm when you are talking to her. Be accepting of her decision, you don't have to be agree with it but you do have to respect it. How to cope? First go to therapy. I made a suggestion above and you might want to think about putting the focus on yourself with your own therapist. You have three children and I sense you are the primary caregiver which can add more stress. One way you can unwind from the stress and cope is to make sure you take time every day for yourself. Put on some music and take a walk, it may sound overly simple but it will help. I also suggest people have a "mantra" that is repeated whenever they start falling apart or become anxious, something that is an affirmation of the future, "my life will get better" and repeat it over and over. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to put yourself first, you deserve to be happy and right now as futile as it feels, you will get through it.

Dr.Keane :

It may also be a good idea to find a support group which would help you learn how others in similar situations cope. I like to tell people to watch a funny movie, I get strange looks however, there is a physiological reaction to humor in that your brain emits endorphins (same as when you exercise) that make you feel better. Counteracts the stress you are experiencing.

Dr.Keane :

I wish there were a more concrete solution but this situation is sad and unfortunately you have to go through it. I too hope that it works out well for both of you and your children.

Customer:

I thank you immensely for you insight. I will try to focus on the solutions you have suggested. Can I reach out to you in the future for further support?

Dr.Keane :

I am glad I was able to help you today. Yes, in the future you can reach me by putting my name at the beginning of your question. Please rate this experience positively as it is the only way I get credit for my response, ( 3 or higher). Thank you.

Dr. Keane, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1696
Experience: Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
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