Monday, 5 March 2012

I Feel Isolated In This Relationship

Dear Babs

I have been married for 18 years. I think I can safely say we are good people who try do right by others. We have a 6 year old daughter who we both love. The problem is that in our relationship we never solve a problem. We have argued and tussled from the beginning and nothing ever changes. So a couple of weeks ago after a particularly heated argument I asked him to leave. He did go reluctantly but every day since then he's been asking to come home. He says he loves me but that doesn't feel enough. I just feel so isolated all of the time. He doesn't talk about how he feels he just says he wants it to go back to normal.  It feels as if all I do is nag him so why does he want to go back to that? I feel so isolated. I'm pretty sure I want to go for a legal separation. The main thing that bothers me is our daughter and how she will cope with it. My husband is self employed so he shouldn't have any problems sharing custody and in any case he's living with his widowed Mother at the moment so he has support. My family are horrified but that's their problem. I don't want to make a mistake but neither do I want to find myself 10 years time still in the same situation.

Dear Peggy

I am sorry you feel so unhappy and isolated. I am at a bit of a loss because you haven't specified the problems you're experiencing. You have told me he doesn't respond to your complaints and he doesn't share his feelings.

I am intrigued as to what your complaints are because it does sound a bit like irresistible force (you) meets immovable object (him) and you say it's been like this from the beginning. So my fantasy is that from the beginning you've been highlighting where he's been going wrong and he's been fighting back by sitting tight. The other thing is you've told me he loves you but you haven't told me whether you love him? You have, however, indicated you are tired of the struggle whilst he would give it another go.

My first question to you would be do you love him? My first to him would be what makes him want to continue? My advice would be to ask yourself some serious 'what' questions. By this I mean for example. If you feel isolated - ask yourself what is it that makes you feel isolated?  Perhaps the answer could be - he doesn't listen to me. What stops him from listening to me? Have I felt that in other relationships? When did I first feel that? So on and so forth. The aim is to gain some insight into yourself and your feelings.

The next thing is to ask yourself what you want from a relationship and whether your expectations are realistic? I'm assuming by you writing to me that you read the blog and so you will be aware that I believe good relationships are built on compromise and not capitulation.

It could be that part of the problem is different communication styles. It may be that your husband would need to talk more but that you would need to make room for that by talking less? In the final analysis you would both need to be willing to change and see some payback in making that change. I think counselling could help but you would need an open mind and a shared agenda, for example we want to explore. If one partner wants in and the other wants out therapy is rarely successful.

Finally you mention the welfare of your daughter but you seem in part to have answered your own question. The main thing is that she feels loved and secure so the way you deal with any separation is very important. By way of help this is a good  website for children and there's a good children's book on my page.

Whatever you decide, Peggy, please know I wish you well.

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