Dear Annie: Six weeks ago, my wife of 14 years and the mother of my two kids told me that our marriage is over. She said that for the past several years, we’ve been growing apart. She is not willing to see a marriage counselor because she is already at peace with this decision. This revelation blindsided me.
I started working from the house five years ago so I could be more involved with the kids and to help my wife focus more on her career. I have also managed to make a good income through a business I started. While I have been working from home, my wife has been excelling in her career. She recently received a promotion and a raise.
The past few weeks have been a challenge. We want to try to shelter the kids from this for as long as possible. We’re still living in the same house, but I’m sleeping in the spare room. She agreed to give this a try for six months. I have no idea what happens after that. Originally, I had hoped that if I stayed in the house, my wife might see some tiny spark of what we had and decide that it’s worth fighting for. But recently, she said that I need to accept that it’s over. She is no longer wearing her wedding ring and is not even willing to hold my hand when we pray at dinner, yet she still expects me to play my part when it comes to interactions with our friends outside the home.
I still love my wife and would do anything to save our marriage, but living with her without truly living with her may be more than I can take. If all hope is lost, is it better for our kids if I continue to live a lie and just suffer in silence? — Trying to Save My Marriage
Dear Trying: I’m so sorry you’re going through this. The torrent of emotions you’re experiencing is too much for any person to process alone. Although your wife isn’t willing to go to counseling, I urge you to seek some form of counseling on your own -- whether from a therapist or a trusted religious adviser.
Children can sense when things are wrong, so you aren’t doing them any favors by “suffering in silence.” The best thing you can do for them is to focus first and foremost on your own mental health during this time of immense stress. This will help you eventually reach a place where you can have a good relationship with their mother as a co-parent, if not as a spouse.
Dear Annie: I read your column regularly. Without a doubt, your advice is consistently above par. But I question your response to “Heartbroken Mom,” the very unhappy new mother who has gone back to work. Twelve weeks is hardly enough time for a mom to recover after giving birth, let alone go off to work. As a seasoned grandmother, I say that six months of recovery time would be about right.
This young sweet mother is probably experiencing some serious after-birth depression. She needs to see her doctor ASAP. She asks, “When does it get easier?” It won’t, as long as she is emotionally and mentally stressed at work. Please, Annie, send her some additional advice! — Joan AFF
Dear Joan: From my understanding, “Heartbroken Mom” isn’t experiencing postpartum depression; rather, she’s frustrated that going back to work has meant missing out on precious moments with her daughter. However, I hear your concern. I would urge any new mothers who are feeling depressed to talk to their doctors immediately. Postpartum depression affects more than 1 in 10 women and is dangerous if left untreated.