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Wife separating over anxiety disorder
My wife has been battling with generalised anxiety disorder for quite a while. It's been a tough point in our relationship but I always thought we could manage. We have been together for nearly 12 years and have a 5 year old.
She has told me now she wants to seperate because she is happier alone.
During the separation I've given her space and moved out to another accommodation (not sure if this was the mistake). Our plan was we would converse more about this while she had time to reflect. But recently she has put a wall and told me she is happier by herself and nothing will change the situation.
She tells me now it's because I wasn't emotionally supportive and she was unhappy because she never felt she lived up to my expectations. I feel like her living alone for her gives her relief but only because she no longer has to face her anxiety issues. I worry that they could get worse. She has been doing professional therapy and medication.
Her anxiety got to the point where she wouldn't even go out to the store, gave up on driving, lost her job over it. Through all this I was happy to keep supporting the family. I don't think I was lazy and I took care of our son and did a lot of chores. I was never abusive or a cheater and did a lot around the house on top of my job. I tried my best supporting her but it was tough juggling a job, chores and a kid and I admit I wan't always there for her.
So we are seeking some professional help but I feel she has put a wall against me. Saying no to any chance to talk through these issues.
I deeply care for her and it hurts me a lot that our son has to go through this. I willing to make a huge life change to help her but I don't think I am the central cause of her need to seperate.
How can I just talk to her? I feel everyday that passes she grows further away. We only really talk about issues once a week because that is what we agreed on. I feel like I need to draw a line for myself as she keeps controlling every aspect of this separation.
Dear Lost in Auz~
Welcome here to the forum, a big step to seek the experience of others, but is a good thing to do.
You sound as if you have not only been carrying the load for a long time but are exceptionally tolerant, moving out on request.
For your wife to not be able to go out to the store, give up on driving, and loose her job her condition must have deteriorated considerably. Do you know if her medical team was aware of this -and of the separation?
Is she now capable of shopping and the other things one needs to do to run a household?
You may be right that she may feel less stressed by herself, though if she was like I have been then in time other things take over as the major stressors. I also found that talking over the major problems was not that helpful for me, it simply made me feel inadequate and worse. Talking of happier things helped.
May I suggest you consider your own situation? I suppose it depends upon three things, practicalities such as finances, and how long you are prepared to wait to see if things improve plus the effect on your son.
Ideally I suppose if your wife would let you accompany her to her therapist you might get a realistic view for the future - not likely I know.
Do you have anyone to support you? Family or a friend? It can make a big difference.
I hope you come back and talk some more
Hi Lost in Auz,
I, too, thank you for reaching out to the forums to help you find a way through this.
From my reading, it would appear that your wife has personified her anxiety as being you (sorry, that sounds harsh, but I am not casting aspersions). As a consequence, she believes avoidance of the one will remedy presence of the other.
This puts you in a predicament as that 'wall' sounds very real.
As the wise words of Croix pointed out, talking things through or dredging up the past could feel confronting; and attending therapy, although a great way to show support, may be seen as threatening in the current situation and prevent opening up.
You meet once a week to talk... I'd suggest you try meeting once a week for lunch - no need to talk other than polite conversation. If you could see your way to not be 'the husband' (or 'the anxiety'), you may be able to gradually regain confidence. Expand this (cautiously) to catching a movie or a walk along the beach and slowly begin to enjoy each other's company.
Thinking further down the track, you might find you can respect the 'wall' by allocating personal space within the home (and dispense with separate dwellings) - hey, you could even offer to build a wall if it offered peace of mind. Continue to live your own 'separate' lives and see what happens.
I hope this gives you a little more 'out of the box' thinking to consider.
I know how hard this is dealing with something similar.
The challenge for women to face is that they are expected to do it all. Children, constant romance with a partner, full time job, housework, personal grooming, socialising and maintain a perfected marketed social media presence. It's little wonder anxiety is on the rise. These are impossible expectations.
Unfortunately anxiety is a form of fear, and fear will often lead to irrational anger which is often directed at partners unfairly. As a result you must feel very betrayed.
You are not to blame. But you are responsible for your child and you must put them first. Anxiety rubs off. You also need to move on - if she says the relationship is over you must respect that, but more for you than for her.
Also as much as people hate to admit it, kids do change things and make both parents less available for each other. This is normal. Michelle Obama wrote something on this this week about how anxious being a parent made her feel and how it changed her relationship dynamic.
Thank you Croix, tranzcrybe and VanVincent those words mean a lot to me even coming from someone I don't know.
I have decided now to stop trying to reconcile as I feel like it only adds to my pain. I will go on with the separation and I will try our hardest to care for our child. Once I felt that acceptance I did manage to get a decent night of sleep. I realised I forgot about myself and how much I had to go though this relationship and I possibly might be better off in the future.
The couples counsellor was aware of her anxiety issues before. We had been going on and off for a while trying to deal with it. I know a lot of it was on my side and how I coped with things but I do think you are right that I have become a symbol of her anxiety.
I do worry about her finances as she has not been able to work in a while but I feel that supporting her financially in the long run will not be good for me. I will probably pay for most of her finances for 4-5 months and leave her a good sum of savings but after that I think I need to work on myself. I can't really support 2 apartments and I think that is the reality she has to face. Also, I think I need to detach from her to protect myself emotionally.
I still care for her deeply and I hope she gets better but I feel like I need to squash that last bit of me that wants everything back.
The deepest pain for me is now knowing that my child has to deal with this and that I will loose a lot of precious moments with him.
Nights and mornings are really hardest. I work from home also so it also makes it worse.
Hi Lost in Auz,
I understand about nights and morning being the hardest. Do you have a routine that you can follow just to set some stability and action around the moments you know will be hard?
youre doing a good thing trying to accept things for as they are, and protecting yourself and your wellbeing is also real imporant. as hard as it is to do, but with each day that passes, it will improve.
Strength to you
Hi Lost in Auz,
Although I am glad you are coming to a realisation, it's not without some ambivalence - there are rarely any 'winners'; but I fully agree there must be a limit to what you can reasonably tolerate, and you are right to address the impact it is having on your mental well being also.
"I have decided now to stop trying to reconcile as I feel like it only adds to my pain" - You may be right in the sense that the more you try, the more adamant your wife becomes in her belief.
"I know a lot of it was on my side and how I coped with things" - the only relevance is that things were not working as a couple. No need to beat yourself up by allocating blame.
"I feel that supporting her financially in the long run will not be good for me" - you do realise your obligations for ongoing financial support?
"I feel like I need to squash that last bit of me that wants everything back" - trying to 'rewind' is rarely an option and may be the cause of some of your frustrations. Perhaps assessing the present situation and finding a way to move forward (as you are now doing) will shed new light and offer less resistance.
I do hope you can find mutual agreement or some means to advance your wife's recovery.
I started doing some running/walking in the afternoon but I might move that to early mornings and nights that could help. Right now I just kinda put myself to sleep watching Netflix. I haven't resorted to any substances but I was thinking of using melatonin which some have recommended.
Yes those are really good points. At the start I put 100% blame on me but I know it's not the case.
I'm getting a family lawyer to sort the finances out. I hope we do not have to go to court. So far we were keeping everything civilised but we have some savings/inheritance and I worry that may cause some issues.
I understand that I will pay child support and maybe spousal support not sure what else. But I would like to start saving again for my child.
It's a constant battle of ups and down now even though I keep reminding myself it's better for me but I do feel lonely. I don't have any family here and only a few friends. Most of my social circle was built around my wife's friends.
I know I should wait till I fully accept everything before looking for more companionship but it's very tempting at times.
Hi Lost in Auz,
There will be all sorts of conflicting emotions along the way and you should have someone to call on for support. Communicate often with trusted family members (even just to have a vent and keep it real) and don't forget the bb hotlines whenever you feel frazzled or overwhelmed.
I'd suggest you also keep two journals:-
- the separation of, and resolution to, your current life;
- your hopes, dreams, and ambitions for the future.
The aspirations of the latter may provide sustenance through the former if you ever find you are losing your way.