Hello all. I am here seeking advice on how to make a difference in my marriage. My wife of 12+ years, 7 years of courtship, and 5 years of being best friends prior to that is ready to leave me. Our marriage started out strong - we were best friends who found love in one another and had a very desirable courtship and early years of our marriage.
After being married for about 3 years, we were ready to try to have a child....my wife quit her full-time job to work for her father in preparation for having a family (we did not want to use a daycare).
Shortly after she quit her fulltime job, it became apparent that her father was unable to keep up with paying her wages, and money started to become tighter and tighter. As a result of these monetary issues, I began losing focus on our relationship, and instead started to worry more about money. The further along and worse the money situation got, the worse I got.
In addition to money issues, my wife and I decided I would handle the finances and bills. I became a bit controlling of monetary matters, including telling her she wasn't able to spend xxx dollars for this, etc. And if she DID spend money in a way I perceived as frivolous, I would tell her so...
As time went on, my frustration from lack of financial security wore on me more and more. I always loved my wife, but failed miserably to show it. I told her repeatedly that the only things that make me happy in this world were her and my now 8 year old daughter, but apparently, that was not enough.
She had voiced that she was not happy on multiple occasions, but I had become accustomed to hearing her say negative things about life...I suppose I brushed it off as complaining (not that I should have, but hindsight is always 20/20)
On July 29 2012, I made a discovery that literally changed my perspective on everything overnight...she was being emotionally unfaithful to me with a male friend that she had a 'crush' on in high school. They had recently reconnected by chance, and started chit-chatting. Nothing big, but in the past 3 months it had escalated to over 500 text messages in a 2 week period.
This event, coupled with her telling me (coincidentally) the night before this discovery that she wasn't happy, has turned my world upside down. I now see with crystal clarity that my wife and my daughter are the two most important things to me in my life. I have completely changed my thinking, and no longer want to exercise control or in any other manipulate my wife's life...I just want to be part of it.
I know many people think that people like myself cannot change...and I respect that opinion, but from my own perspective, I not only believe they can, but I feel as though I truly have.
My problems right now stem from the fact that my wife is apparently of the mindset that people do not change. We have begun couples counseling, I am going through the MarriageMax course, and I am waiting for several self-help type books (including Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) to arrive as well. I also am inquiring about counseling for my control issues, just to ensure that I'm going everything to keep that on the right track and in check. I am a very strong-willed person, and am determined when I set my mind to do something, and believe that I am doing a good job of dealing with any concerns or fears that previously caused me to "lose my cool". I'm a work in progress, but I feel as though I'm making a lot of positive changes.
I love my wife more than anything, and I want to help her get back the self-confidence, courage, and self-respect that she feels she has lost over the years. Despite attending counseling, she remains obstinate and cold, and is probably ready to leave today. We have promised to try to work this out for 3 months, but I fear that it's not long enough, and that her heart is not really letting her "try".
As I said, we have an 8 year old daughter, and believe that the best family situation to raise a child is one which provides both parents at all times.
Additionally, I come from the "til death do us part" culture, and only 1 person in my extended family has ever been divorced. Sadly, my father was similar to me with regards to his relationship with my mother, and I suppose that seeing this growing up mislead me to believe that relationships have high and low points, but everything is recoverable.
My wife is very clearly from the other culture, as every female in her extended family has been divorced except one, and that person's marriage only ended because the husband died of cancer at an early age.
I know that my backstory has been long, but I want all of my info to be available to anyone who chooses to weigh-in on my dilemma.
So, after 5 or 6 years of "more bad than good", my wife finally had the courage to tell me that she's not happy, and she thinks she is ready to move on. She has stated the following things:
1> She loves (cares) for me, but she's not IN LOVE (excited about) me.
2> She wants to be in total control of her life
3> She feels as though her well is completely dry (with regards to being able to love me)
Unfortunately, my wife does not have a full-time income, and she says she would refuse spousal support from me if I try to give it to her. She is setting herself up for a very challenging time of trying to be self-supportive. I am supporting her as much as I can, even helping her with starting her own mural painting business (she's an artist) so that she can have as much independence and freedom as she wants. I don't ask when she's coming home from her friends house anymore (background: her best friend, a female, who also has a history of failed relationships).
With regards to myself, I have made the following changes in my life:
From: ::: To:
Uninvolved with household duties ::: Choremaster
Uncomplimentary ::: Observant and complimentary
Money First ::: Love First
Not involved with many special events ::: Want to be involved in everything
Bad personal image/fat ::: Lost 40 pounds since 7/29, taking better general care
Refused help/counseling ::: Attending couples counseling/starting individual
The advice I'm looking for is this: How do I let her know these changes are legitimate? I know I cannot force free will and make her choose me again, but I know that love can conquer all. Is there anything I can do to help her believe that I am for real, and that I want to above all else fix what I broke, and get us on the road to recovery? I truly believe that, with the help of counseling and the self-help marriage enhancement programs I'm learning about, we can have a very happy and fulfilling marriage, full of love and mutual respect. Unfortunately, she's so focused on how she'll survive once she leaves that she's unable to have positive thoughts about us.
Again, I know I cannot force anything. But I'm hoping that someone might be able to give me a look into my wife's perspective of this situation, and tell me what their spouse did that helped or would have helped in a similar situation. My wife means more to me than anything in this world, and I plan to do everything in my power to keep our love and marriage moving forward, and avoiding this split.
Any and all advice is appreciated. However, if you're someone who believes people can NOT change, please do not weigh in on this - I have read plenty of ideas from your perspective, and I understand the natural disbelief that you have with regards to people's fundamental characters changing. I respect your doubts, but right now, I'm searching for guidance and perspective on if there's anything I can do. I am doing my best to be positive, loving, understanding, observant, and caring. I receive enough negativity from my poor wife, and would greatly appreciate if those of you who have doubt in my sincerity would have the courtesy to not express any negativity on this thread.
To any and all who are going to offer advice, I thank you in advance.