My wife of 10 years told me recently that she loves me but she is no longer "in love" with me. She said for the past three years she feels that we have drifted apart and she wants time to gather her thoughts. She said she wants to move back to her parents' home indefinitely. I love my wife and do not want to lose her. I am most distressed and confused. Should I let her go or should I fight to save our marriage?
It is a fact that some marriages will disintegrate over the years and some couples will grow apart and live more like housemates than husband and wife. This comes about when one or both parties begin to take the other and the relationship for granted. As the novelty of courtship and the excitement of the wedding wear off, the relationship will drift along aimlessly like a rudderless ship. Soon one or both parties will wake up to the reality that "nutten nah gwaan" for the relationship, and so they gravitate to someone else who will fill the need for love and affection.
So what has happened in the past three years? What has caused you and your spouse to drop the ball? Have you contributed in any way to her present state of mind?
It takes two hands to clap, and so both parties have to take responsibility for the state of the relationship. Your wife also needs to objectively examine her own thoughts and actions to determine how she may have contributed to the breakdown in the relationship.
Timeout can be both good and bad. It is useful if both partners are in agreement about using the time for introspection, and identifying personal factors that may hinder the growth of the relationship. It is in this time that deliberate attempts will be made to address the issues. This timeout period cannot be indefinite and must be managed.
On the contrary, timeout can be an escape route from the relationship. The party who requested the timeout could well want to end the relationship but may want to do it in a gradual, less obvious way. A timeout period that has no timeline is a sure sign that the departing party may not return anytime soon. It is even more suspicious if the place of refuge is the parents' home.
One can understand your distress and confusion. The truth is, if she decides to go, there is no way you can stop her. If she remains, it may be a miserable time for both of you as she may be there physically but be gone emotionally.
Assuming that her call for a timeout is genuine, give her the space and time she needs but this should not go on indefinitely. Do not stalk, call, text or visit her, as this would defeat the purpose of the exercise. She must, however, exercise sensitivity and care during the process.
What is highly recommended is that you engage the services of a marriage counsellor who will explore with both of you the issues that may have contributed to the marital breakdown.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. For questions and appointments write to firstname.lastname@example.org.