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Ask Dr. Keane Your Own Question

Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1696
Experience:  PHD LPC
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My wife and I have been married for 19 years. We have three

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My wife and I have been married for 19 years. We have three children, Joey - 16, Emily - 13, and Marie - 11. We live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. By all accounts, we have a nice life. But my wife and I are not happy. She devotes all her attention and I think has most of her needs met by our children. We've grown apart over the years and now our relationship is becoming really strained. I've attempted several times to persuade her to join me in getting help to no avail. She is simply silent on the whole idea.

Presently, our son is providing us a significant challenge and that has placed greater strain on our relationship. I believe that our somewhat broken relationship is likely to have a negative affect on our parenting since we can sometimes not finish a discussion or come to any conclusion. Therefore we are not very definitive in our communications or our actions with him. The situation reached a head last night between her and my son and now she is feeling that she has broken relationships with both the men in the household and is saying crazy things like we would both be better off without her except she can't bring herself to do anything drastic that would affect the girls. I got the distinct feeling that she feels trapped and even used the word suicide.

I'm concerned. I love my wife and our family and I have no intention of allowing it to fall apart. She knows this. I don't know if she believes it or not but the fact that we are still together after all these years should be some bit of demonstration. I would guess that our problems have been present off and on for over a decade. Ever since our last child was born.

I don't know what to do or how to behave. I don't want to make things worse but I don't see how I can just do nothing. This is my first attempt to get some outside help.

I would welcome any help you can provide.

Kind Regards,

Brian.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Keane replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Keane :

Hi, I can be of help to you today.

Customer:

ok great

Customer:

are you there

Dr. Keane :

It is quite common for a relationship to grow apart especially when years go by and communication between couples becomes more focused on things other than their relationship. Marriage counseling is your best bet but it will be tough to get her to go.

Dr. Keane :

How did you handle the situation last night? What did you do if anything?

Customer:

At first I tried to be supportive and console her but I'll admit that I was quite shocked to hear her speak that way about me and my son. I could have handled it better but it was quite concerning. She felt I was getting angry and from that point there wasn't much I could do. I was able to express to her that I wasn't angry but rather concerned, that I love her and have no intention of leaving and that I want us to work through this together. That there is nothing I can do on my own, however.

Dr. Keane :

It will be very important to work together in regards XXXXX XXXXX your son right now. If he is presenting significant problems you need to put your own relationship aside and get on the same page or as you suggest in your post your parenting will have negative outcomes. Her silence in regards XXXXX XXXXX help really is her saying she isn't feeling as positive about a change in your relationship. She may have given up, especially if you are both unhappy. What happened last night may be just the way she views your behavior, as angry. When she is calmer, when everyone is calmer you may want to sit down and tell her how important it is to either go to counseling or have the marriage deteriorate even more.

Dr. Keane :

You are role models for these children and what is happening is affecting them, they see it. You could even suggest family therapy as a way to start getting things back on track. It would be helpful for your son especially if he is presenting challenges (which at his age is normal to a degree)

Customer:

Is it your view that dealing with our marriage issues now, while dealing with my son, would not be recommended?

Dr. Keane :

No, not at all. You can deal with it all but most importantly the two of you need to put aside your own differences when dealing with him, you can work on both and if you find success in working together on issues that involve your son you will find success in dealing with your other issues. The main thing is being committed to a solution. That is why family therapy might be a big help right now. You concern shows that you are committed to the marriage now you have to convince her that you want only the best for both of you. If she doesn't want to go to counseling with you, family therapy may be more appealing to her since it involves the children.

Customer:

Also, there is another important issue. I work in the home. My office is on the third floor where we have another spare bedroom. I use it when I get sick because my snoring keeps her up. I've been staying there nearly full time since I had surgery on 10/7/10. She brought this up as an issue. I would have to admit that I've been staying there selfishly because it is better for me to deal with our relationship when I have my own place to sleep. I've asked her to work with me on solving our problems and her silence or refusal has caused me to want to stay up there hoping that perhaps she might reconsider so that we can improve things. A way of adding pressure. Perhaps this is not a good approach and I should consider trying to go back to our room. The problem is that whenever I'm not there, she lets my middle daughter sleep there. So even if I wanted to sometimes, to do that, I'd have to wake her up and move her. To date, i've not been willing to do that.

Dr. Keane :

I agree this is not the best approach to solving your problems, however, neither is her silence. I would suggest you go back to your bedroom, let it be known, tell your wife you will be coming to bed back in your room so your daughter isn't an excuse or an issue. You are both using non-verbal negative communication. You need to ask what she needs, and what she is feeling, and what she wants from this realtionship, and you should tell her your feelings, and what you need from her. That is basic and necessary.

Customer:

I'm not sure I even feel capable of telling her what I need. If I had to say it now I'd say I need to feel that she loves me. Right now, I don't see that. She would say the same. I think we need help breaking this down to simple small steps we can take to at least get us on the road to recovery.

Customer:

All of that assumes she wants us to recover. I get the sense that she doesn't think it is possible to recover but that doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't want recovery.

Customer:

How do I find out if she even wants that. I asked her directly last night and she didn't answer.

Customer:

What do I do if she says no?

Dr. Keane :

If she didn't answer she is again using non verbal communication and it's possible she is either afraid to tell you or doesn't know. Instead of asking as a question make a statement something, like " I know we are having a tough time in our relationship right now and I'd like to make it better and if you are onboard we can work on it" . Don't ask for an answer, let it sink in and give her time to respond. If you make statements rather than questions she won't be so defensive. If she still refuses to engage in a conversation after awhile then you may conclude she isn't and go from there.

Dr. Keane :

She may be depressed too.

Customer:

If she is depressed, how does that affect what I do?

Customer:

It might be useful to know that I have had bouts of depression, the last one about a year ago was quite deep and long lasting. I spoke with my MD about this summer during a physical and he said that the next time, we should intervene with medication.

Customer:

I have no idea if it is related to our relationship or not.

Dr. Keane :

If she is depressed she needs to get some help, if she doesn't want to go see a doctor and get evaluated for depression that is her choice and she will have to live with it until she decides to make the changes. However, If you have been in this state yourself you know how paralyzing it can become and how you can become "flat" and silent. Best thing is to tell her you are going to get some professional help and you'd like it if she did too. It may be depression affecting both of you which in turn is affecting your family and your lives in general. It's impossible to diagnose from this site, you need to take it to a higher level by seeking out a professional face to face evaluation.

Customer:

Who do you go to for medical evaluation about depression? Family Doctor, Psycologist, some other specialty?

Dr. Keane :

I would suggest you start with your family doctor who can then refer you to a psychiartrist for medication and/or psychologist for therapy. If your family MD has prescribed a medication for you successfully before he may be able to do it again. I prefer a psychiatrist since they are up to date on new effective antidepressants.

Customer:

Ok, Thanks very much for your help today

Dr. Keane, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1696
Experience: PHD LPC
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