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Wife withdrawn and resentful

Community Member

Hi, my wife and I are married since 20 years. The marriage was good for 15 years, except her constant silent treatment when we have a conflict. I asked her several times to stop that, use communication but without any success. In general I am the more patient, giving, mellow person, more of a people pleaser.

3 years ago we had a peak of her silent treatment and I started to research. It started with silent treatment and ended with narcissism. Unfortunately I have to say that she shows some covert narcissistic traits.

Since that time I changed quite a bit. I ignored her silent treatment, I started to implement boundaries, looked more after myself and stopped to panic when she was in a bad mood, etc.

2 years ago she found out that I researched narcissim quite extensively but kept quite.

1 year ago she told me and was very sad about it. She felt betrayaled and is since that time quite withdrawn and resentful.

I already apologized and explained the background of it but it seems there is something brocken between us. Some days are OK but every small issue, difference, different opinion, wrong word, wrong tone, etc. and she swithes into victim mode and is withdrawn again.

Any ideas?

28 Replies 28

I see not much agreeability, not much compromise, not much effort to give. I get it, work, household, cooking, etc. all quite demanding and tiring. I help her already as much as possible. Bathrooms, toilets, laundry, rubbish bin, dishwasher, putting back dishes, cleaning the oven and kitchen counter, vaccum cleaning, shopping, all paperwork… not forgetting the stuff around the house and cleaning the cars. But if you would ask her she is doing 75% of the work..

This mindset is basically everywhere…
Sex, she has no issue to receive 45 minutes but giving is not really her thing. She is lucky that I am a fast comer… she asks are you done, rolls over and falls to sleep.
The relationship, it starts with so super small things like SMS, affection during the day (a kiss, a hug, a touch, a smile…) and ends with that she thinks to be right after several days of silent treatment.
Just to be clear.. I do not cheat, I do not gamble, I do not hit or beat her, do not call her names, I maybe shouted at her 5 times in 20 years, I never ignored her or sent her away when she wanted to talk to me, approach me, … yes, I am far from perfect.
This kind of mindset scares me… and I don't feel like it to argue about it.. somehow I just feel tired. She gives me constantly, maybe subconsciously, the feeling I am the husband from hell..

The other day she told me sometimes before sleep she reflects back and thinks that she is actually a pretty good wife…

Back to the original issue…. I guess with her withdrawal she is trying to pull me, put me back into my place where I am afraid of possibly leaving me, her silent treatment, her anger and resentment. But she realizes that it does not work anymore..

Hi Duesentrieb, the worry that can happen is whether or not this silent treatment is going to happen again, unfortunately in my case, yes, it was always to be expected, and with this can create emotional domination.

If I was upset, I'd just go out to the shed and ponder away at something rather than her closing the bedroom door and laying on the bed and by this, certainly increased my anxiety.


Hi again

I think the most important thing atm is to not blame yourself. You need to maybe cease justifying yourself and focus on ways to break the negativity she has.

There is no excuse for silent treatment, nor her intimidation and lack of respect. However, it is prudent to seek out the core reason. My gut tells me for her, her life and marriage is mundane and the is zero stimulus. Again, no your fault.

I can only recommend family counseling again, but if you get no improvement in a certain time frame then it is a lost c aside because she has to want to change.

Children are resilient. Your son will adapt to his parents separation.


Hi Geoff, thanks.

Her silent treatment is quite out of this world as she is not doing anything except laying in bed and watching TV. I do all the work, household, look after our son.

She even doesn't eat or only when I sleep. If I get something she refuses even that to ... make me even feel more guilty...

Like I said that does not impress me anymore. I do things I like, wash the cars, play with my son, etc.

It is her entitlement that she can justify that and her passive agressive behaviour that bothers me a lot as it is something hard to change...

Will answer later... off to work...

Guys have a great day...

Hi Duesentrieb, I can concur exactly to what you've said and this did happen very early in our marriage and throughout our 25 year marriage.

She was my first love and being inexperienced that it was very difficult to know what I could do.

We are divorced, that was her decision, but we still talk to each other by phone or in person just as we did before, any disagreement either one of us hangs up and then rings the next day, but we couldn't possibly live together again because the same old would put us in the same situation as before.

Another type of love eventuates, but I was the same as you, cooked, took kids to and from games/training etc if this situation developed.

Look forward to hearing back from you.


Thanks guys...

The best thing that came out of therapy for myself was that I am all right, my needs, my worries, my desires etc. and it would be good if I would be more assertive, truthful and outspoken.

She said basically I should get prepared, set a date and if things do not get better considering leaving. She said if I have doubts I should try to say no to one of my wife's requests and see what happens.

Somehow I really wonder how much my wife's reality differs from mine. As described previously, I consider our relationship as not ballanced to my disadvantage. She would say the same thing about herself.

I highlighted that imbalance once and she starts to go off and asks me if we have scorecards now turning the blame...
I would ask how she comes to that conclusion.

Same with the narcissistic topic. I would like to know why my partner is researching that.

When I went to the therapist she was not supportive at all. BTW all started with work issues but within 2 sessions the therapist concluded that my relationship is the underlying cause as my thoughts were centred only on the relationship, basically 24/7.

In my wife's opinion these things do not belong outside and she considers that all as nonsense. One time she said something like … it worked for so many years and 'we' were happy, why change. I would say she was happy.

She considers the start of any of our problems, 3 years ago when I started to research.

I came home today at 6pm. Dinner not ready yet. She prepared dinner but with a lot of moaning. Trying to make some communication but I didn't get much more as yes, no, maybe, hm. After dinner she helped me maybe 15 minutes but left after that. I worked maybe another 60 minutes. After that I played with my son.

Actually I am tired of thinking, trying and hoping it will get better.... thanks for reading..

Hi Duesentrieb

Being wonderful definitely comes with challenges. You can start basically wondering, which may sound a little like 'I wonder why my spouse doesn't really listen to what I really want to say?' or 'I wonder how I could possibly have upset him/her'. Basically wondering can lead us to self doubt: Maybe what I have to say isn't really all that important or maybe I am difficult. This is where getting seriously wonderful becomes important. 'I really do seriously wonder whether what I have to say is important'. You can reach the conclusion that what you have to say is of importance a lot of the time. It's important to express your emotions, not keep them bottled up until things become explosive. It's important to express the need for progress, even though your spouse prefers vibing in sameness. So, serious wondering can lead to the conclusion 'My spouse does not care to be open minded and thoughtful. They do not like to be challenged. They do not possess certain skills required in clear and progressive communication'. Being this wonderful can lead you to realise you are careful, open minded and thoughtful. You are willing to face challenges and you are skillful when it comes to progressive communication. I love evolving through wonder. In fact, there are times when I thrive on it.

Wonder does become pretty complex at times. In my states of wonder, when it comes to my marriage, I have wondered if my husband will consciously seek more energy through drinking less and seeking excitement with me. I have wondered at times whether I would be best dissolving the marriage. I have even wondered whether saying 'If nothing changes in this relationship, I can no longer live with the sameness. It is ultimately your decision as to whether it's worth the effort to change things'. I did end up saying it, in a thoughtful way. He was upset yet little has changed. In a liberating way, I have come to gradually disappoint him from the role I once gave him 'He who enthusiastically evolves with me'. I have worked through this sad kind of wonder, which revealed 'I make a difference in my life'. I have come to love myself through my process of questioning so much. By the way, my husband is basically a good man who expresses his love for me every day. He simply does not want to change himself or the relationship. He's comfortable.

When you go from basic to serious wonder, you're naturally going to challenge and trigger the people around you, as you're waking up to them.



I am really not sure what is going on but something is broken.

I think I idealized my wife for a long time and I did a lot of things for her to get her attention, affection and love. I think I lost myself and I made a lot of compromises along the way and I have to admit as well with expectations.

I still love her but my love changed as I am not idealize her anymore.
I am not sure if she suffers because of that. Or is it my research that she considers as betrail. What I can see she sees herself in the victim role and has seemingly no interest, no energy, etc to get out of that.

It doesn't matter what I do, she seems stuck in it. I can see her suffering and I have days where I want to give up on the relationship just to end her suffering….


Hi Duesentrieb

Do you think maybe she's depressed but doesn't recognise it? Just an idea. Can sometimes be hard to distinguish between when someone's 'difficult' and when they're facing depression. A lot of the traits can appear similar: Anger, detachment, lack of interest, self isolation, 'I don't care' attitude etc. You mentioned a shift in her behaviour when you both settled down. Do you recall whether she became rather sad around this time?

I'm not excusing her behaviour toward you, just wondering about what could possibly explain it. Not at all dismissing the idea that she's naturally unreasonable (unable to see or give good reason). I feel for you so much as you try to navigate through this deeply challenging largely unbearable time. Relationships can be torturous things when they become deeply deeply challenging.


Community Member

Hi Duesentrieb.

The Silent treatment is extremely frustrating to deal with. My partner does it to me all the time which in most cases leads to arguments and fights. Depending on the severity of the silent treatment, it can be really difficult to navigate their care needs and support them.

From my experience, when I have been a victim of the silent treatment (a form of abuse), I learnt that there is nothing you could do to make them understand that their behavior is unacceptable because the more one tries to resolve/ diffuse the issue, the more the silent treatment prevails.

For me, I let my person sulk - that it! The silent treatment is punishment for someone not getting what they want. It's simply learnt from growing up and it's a not a healthy form of resolution.

The only way to resolve the issue is to let them vent, let them sulk but be very empathetic, caring, understanding, pretty much smother them with love and warmth but I say "do not give them what they want."