Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm married, and my wife and I are both in our mid 40's. We've been married for 18 years and have two teenage children. Our home is paid; no debt.
Six months ago she told me that she wanted a separation, that she doesn't feel for me like she used to, and she needs to find out if this is what she wants. She said there was no cheating going on. I am seeing a marriage counselor and have been making changes; she, on the other hand, doesn't want to talk to anyone.
I moved out for awhile but returned, trying to work things out, but nothing. She now has moved out and it's been about a month and she says she still doesn't know what she wants or what to do.
Again, I asked her to talk to a counselor, but she refuses. In the meantime, I don't know what to do, how to help her and how to keep this marriage together. How long do I keep this going?
I told her I love and miss her, but she doesn't say anything to me. She's almost closed all communications with me and when we do see each other, she's very angry towards me. I don't know what else to do. I don't know if this is enough information, but I'm open for any advice.
Your wife adamantly wants a separation, gets angry when she sees you, won’t say she loves you, refuses to see a counselor or work with you in any way. Without a sharp change in attitude soon, I'm afraid there's not much hope for the marriage.
Her anger towards you is a thinly veiled message that she's not getting what she wants, or as my experience dictates, she possibly has found someone else and is trying to decide what to do.
Unless she immediately starts to give 100 percent effort and starts talking about what's going on, the marriage will die. She may have her issues, but she should at least be able to talk to you about it for there to be any chance.
I do not recommend ultimatums except in certain, dire situations, and yours is one. Get together with your wife. Be firm and tell her that her indecisiveness has been tearing you up, no telling what it's doing to your children, and you have had enough.
She must decide right now what she wants, because she has had plenty of time. Does she value the marriage enough to work this out? She needs to decide. Give her one week and then demand a yes or no. Understand all you are asking is that she commit to work on the marriage.
If she still doesn't know, then make the decision for her. Tell her you will proceed with a divorce, because Henry, this cannot keep going. Your life has been put on hold and in turmoil for much too long. It's time to move on.
I realize this is not easy, especially when this was dropped on you from out of nowhere. You've given her the time, but now it's time to take care of yourself if she won’t commit.
Stay in your home and take care of your children. Time will heal the hurt you are feeling, just be patient. Good luck.