I recently received correspondence from a wife who was feeling increasingly distant from her husband. Over the past few years, she had noticed some changes in her husband. And, these were changes that she didn’t like all that much. She told me that her husband used to be easy going and laid back. Today, he was critical, uptight, and judgmental. But, every time she tried to bring this up with him, he became offended and pulled away from her.
The last straw was when she found out that her husband had hidden a demotion at work from her. She heard about it from the wife of a coworker. It had happened months ago and yet the husband had remained silent about the whole situation. He had lost some accounts and was apparently in a downward spiral at work, and yet he had kept this news which affected both of them to himself. This lead the wife to believe that he might be hiding other important things from her. She told me, in part: “I’m not sure if I know who this man is anymore. He is not the man I married. I don’t believe in divorce, but I’m not sure that I want to be someone who won’t even be honest with or share things with me.”
I’m asked about situations like this quite often. And, I don’t completely buy the theory that someone can change who they are overnight or even over large periods of time. Often, I find that the circumstances surrounding that person have changed. And, the person’s reactions to these changing circumstances are sometimes reactions that the other spouse can not embrace or does not approve of. This doesn’t mean, however, that the husband is a different person and that she no longer knows him. What it means is that his reactions to new and troublesome situations feel quite foreign to her.
In my opinion though, this marriage could most certainly improve and even survive. This might require some give and take on the part of both spouses. But, I didn’t buy the theory that the husband woke up one day as someone else. And, this was actually good news for the wife. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Looking At Both The Circumstances And The Person: It was very easy and tempting for the wife to focus solely on her husband’s changing personality. But, she had glossed over the very notable changes in their lives. The economy had forced them to drastically change their lifestyle and this had brought on a lot of additional worries and pressures. Within the last 18 months, they had added a child to their family and the husband’s mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Because of the economy, the husband had lost many of his sales contracts that the family had relied upon. He likely felt very helpless, frustrated, and vulnerable as the result.
The wife conceded that all of these factors weighed heavily on her husband, but she asserted that this still didn’t give him the right to act like a complete stranger. And, she certainly had a point. But, sometimes if you can look at it from your husband’s point of view, you might see the situation a bit differently. This can help your perceptions which can in turn help your situation.
Seeing Things From The Husband’s Point Of View: I will admit that I didn’t personally know either of the parties involved. But, I have heard from many husbands in this situation. And here’s what many of them tell me. They will often say that they see it differently. They will say things like: “My wife used to accept me for who I am. In fact, she used to love who am. Today, she seems to loathe the personality traits that she used to love the most. She just doesn’t see how much pressure I’m under and how much is on my shoulders. I’m doing the best that I can for our family. But, instead of seeing this, she just criticizes me and this only makes me feel worse about myself. Doesn’t she realize that the more she criticizes me, the more I am going to withdrawal and the more she is going to see the person that she doesn’t like all that much? Am I perfect? Of course not. But she would probably get a better result if she would support me and try to help me rather than to criticize me.”
Moving On From Here: Hopefully, you can see that both spouses have valid points of view. The wife had every right to be concerned about the changes in her husband. But, the husband had every right to ask for support rather than criticism. I suggested that the next time that the wife wanted to bring up this issue, she might approach him from a place of concern and support rather than from a place of criticism. Instead, she might say something like: “I’m noticing some changes in you that hurt and frustrate me and I’m pretty sure that you’re not having the best time either right now. Is there anything that I can do to help or support you right now? I want to lighten your load, but I can’t do that if you keep things secret from me, become defensive and critical, and keep me in the dark. I miss the man who used to make me laugh and I know that you miss the woman who supported you no matter what. Can we work together so that both of us get more of what we want?”
Granted, one conversation was probably not going to magically turn this situation around or solve all of the couples problems. But an attitude of cooperation will often go a long way toward making some improvements. If the husband felt more understood and supportive, he was less likely to be secretive and critical. And once the wife started to see the attributes that she loved and was very much missing, she was going to have an easier time being supportive. So, the whole cycle would start to feed on itself in a positive way rather than a negative one.
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Source by Leslie Cane