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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

My wife and I have had a tumultuous five-year marriage. The main cause of the stress, in my opinion, has been my wife's attachment to her parents. In addition, we are both jealous and controlling. Furthermore, my wife has been unemployed. She is confused by all of this and questions whether she loves me. She wants to separate. This has devastated me. What can I do other than just give her the space she wants and wait?

Answer

Your marriage sounds very rocky with many issues in need of resolution: jealousy, relations with parents, possessiveness, and unemployment. There are probably other issues as well. All relationships take two parties to create conflict. Even if only one person learns more effective ways of communicating, it can greatly improve the relationship. Thus, I see three possible courses of action open to you: 1. You could do nothing and hope that your wife returns. Of course the chances are that if she returns, your marriage will return to where it was and the problems will continue. If she doesn't return, you will still be the same possessive, jealous, controlling guy you have always been. It is likely that you will find yourself in similar circumstances again. 2. While you are waiting, you could seek professional help yourself so that you can get a better understanding of your jealousy and controlling behavior. At least by seeking help you might be able to avoid the same problems with others. This will also help you to relate to your wife more effectively should she return. It may also help you demonstrate that you have changed which could affect her decision to return. 3. You could suggest to your wife that you both seek professional marriage counseling. A marriage counselor might be able to help you both understand how you are contributing to the stress and your marriage and assist you in finding better ways to communicate. Once you learn how to communicate you might be able to find workable solutions to your marital struggles.

04/04/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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