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Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Over 15 years exp. Married 30 years and happy.
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My wife packed up her things and stepdaughters things while

Customer Question

My wife packed up her things and stepdaughters things while I am out of town. Said it would be easier. I return to town tomorrow and she said that she will be out of the house when I arrive. She doesn't want to see me. We have been together for twelve years and our issues are mainly that I have said hurtful things to her in the past that she is holding onto anger over..and she can't get past. We don't have fun together, don't have much in common and I fuss to much at stepdaughter. I adore my wife and daughter(raised her since she was 15 months) who is 14 years old and though I feel like this is all sudden my wife says that she has been telling me that she has been unhappy but I just don't listen. My question ... How much time do I give her till I let her know that I want to meet face to face with her and should I start counseling first without her to show that I am committed to change then hope to bring her in later.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
thanks for using Justanswer. I am sorry for your pain and I am glad you guys are starting into a process of change. I hope all works out the way you want in the end.
I will answer your question and then give you additional information that I believe will be helpful.
How long till you ask her to see you face to face? Probably two weeks.
Should you start counseling before she is willing to? Yes.
She wants a big break from the discomfort that has motivated her to move out. She needs to perceive that her contacts with you are going to be non stressful and pleasant. So invite her to do something enjoyable and simple. When she agrees to meet you, be sure to keep things light and pleasurable. Don't share your pain with her and don't let her feel any pressure from you to come home or to solve your longstanding relationship difficulties. If it seems like you are starting over with your relationship from scratch, this is a good thing. Keep your date simple and relatively brief. One point of clarification: You are not trying to pretend like nothing happened but you are trying keep things light and pleasant.
Regarding counseling: Your goal in counseling is to explore changes in behavior you may want to make for your own edification (regardless of her coming back or not). She can be the impetus and the catalyst for your change but your change must be for you. If the primary purpose for your change is to get her back it won't work. She wants a better you down deep because it is what you want, not just a better behaving you to win her back.
Hope this answers your question and a little more.
If you have additional questions about this process and would like my input just let me know by using this thread.
Mark Manley
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Got it...keep things pleasant and light but how does that help to deal with issues? I am going to start counseling and I am sure that there are things that I am going to want to talk about. Is it that the first meeting is going to be an ice breaker and if she sees that I am not sharing my pain or trying to persuade that she will then want to open up and talk. We have been texting and talking and it is apparent that she is angry and disappointed in me . She is hurt and in part blames herself that she waited so long to leave. I know that she loves me deep down she has said a much she just coulnt wait for me to be the person she needs. She says I am not a bad person but she says I have been dismissive of her feelings and selfish.
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
Good clarification, thank you.
If she wants to talk about issues and she initiates this then you can move from pleasant talk to heavy talk. If this happens your job is to listen, listen, listen, no defending yourself, no yea buts, no trying to set the record straight. She will say hurtful things and she we see things differently than you do but your time for defense and setting the record straight comes later, much later. The most unselfish thing you can do is learn to listen to her in a non-defensive way. You are listening so you can understand things from her perspective. This does not mean you have to agree with her, but you do have to understand her. And she needs to feel understood. This is very difficult to do. A good method for accomplishing this is called 'Reflective Listening'
This would be a good thing to address in your counseling. If you would like to look at this method together here on this thread let me know and I can assist you.
Best of success to you.
Mark Manley
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
reflective listening i think i understand, i did some quick research and i have a grasp of the concept. i know that i am probably pretty defenseless against what she says and how she feels , quite frankly she is right about most things. so i shall listen and not respond but give her every assurance that i am hearing her. i feel that i am really at her mercy. i am definitely going to start counseling ASAP what do you think the chances are that i could eventually get her to join me in counseling?

i am sure you have` seen this scenerio before and in the most dire instances is there ever a true window of opportunity for coming to terms?
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
You need to respond by reflecting back to her your understanding of her message. And checking with her to see if she is feeling understood by you. If she is not feeling understood you continue the process until she is. You are not at her mercy but your relationship is. Based on what you have told me I thinks the chances are very good that she may at some point be willing to join you in counseling to better understand what was, is, or could be happening in your relationship and how it might be improved. What you can assume for sure is that she is not interested in the old relationship, maybe she will be interested in seeing how things could be different for the two of you after she has had sufficient time to recover.
Best of luck to the two of you.
Mark Manley
Mark Manley and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thanks man... i now have some keen insight into my situation and perhaps a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel


ray manfredi
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
You are welcome. Thanks for the opportunity to help.