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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 been separated for over a year. It seems that her love for me has vanished. She felt that for three years that I was not fully dedicated to the marriage (not sharing household chores, not having a joint bank account, flirting with other women). I want her back. I have learned from my mistakes. Is there anything I can do to save our marriage?

Answer

If I understand the issue, we have a three year marriage during which you took your wife and your marriage for granted. You were not ready for a committed relationship, were still operating as though you were single, and you expected your wife to be either Mom or a maid. You say you have learned from your mistakes and want to rekindle the relationship and, I assume, remain married. Your wife, on the other hand, is saying to you that she no longer loves you and wants to terminate the marriage.

Apparently you and your wife had different ideas of what marriage is all about and what you expected from one another. Most of us model our behavior after some version of our what we saw with our parents or some other significant adult. The first relationship we are faced with is that which occurs between our parents, and the first relationship we have is with our mother. Hence, a great deal of how we relate to women will be based on our relationship with our mother, the type of model our father presented and how we perceived our parents. In addition, our attitudes and values are shaped by our peers.

There must have been something that attracted you and your wife to one another. Since love between you was once there, there might be a chance to re-kindle the relationship -- if you are both willing to work on it. Marriage is work. It can be the most frustrating of relationships and the most blissful. It is always a challenge.

Since you have not demonstrated your commitment to the marriage, it will be up to you to show that you are serious about the marriage through the actions you take. Your words will not be enough. You must demonstrate your willingness to change. One such demonstration would be suggesting and making arrangements for the two of you to seek professional help together. With the help of a marriage counselor, you and your wife may be able to explore the differences between you and develop new ways of relating to one another. Since you have invested four years together, spending several months in couple's therapy would be a small additional investment.

You might want check out a series of articles in our magazine, Making Your Marriage Work, which can be found in the Relationships section.

3/5/98

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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