Relationship stress; why does my wife behave like she does

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    Hi all,

    I’ll try to keep this as short as possible. Questions, just ask me.

    I met my wife 1st time in 2011. We met again in 2013, we both felt a deep strong connection since first meeting. End 2015, I immigrated into her home country (US, I am from Europe). Lots of bad luck, I over-focused on finding a good job, so she could quit and pursue a dream of hers. I ended up being severely depressed.

    My wife started to withdraw in March 2015, out of self protection. End 2015, I mentally crashed, and I beat my depression. Will never go back to that dark place.

    After a few weeks, I realized all the damage done. And my relationship was demolished said my wife, she said all the beautiful we had was destroyed. To her, I was her “forever” husband. PS we are both older, I am in the high 50’s, my wife is in the high 60’s.

    Two realizations at the same time, I was overwhelmed and very emotional. I felt like something had changed (apart from the relationship being no more). Me and my wife had at first deep, long, open talks. Came out we didn’t want to divorce, we wanted to stay together.

    Then, less and shorter talks, I felt a distance that became bigger. I noticed that my wife was doing regular video chats with a guy who was introduced to her by a mutual friend. She called him her spiritual mirror. She said nothing was going on. Yet she kept on video chatting. I was confused, felt scared, felt threatened. I pleaded her to tell me, to let me at least talk to him. My requests were evaded and ignored. My wife kept saying she loved me, and was holding space for me.

    We started counseling. I suggested that, and my wife was open to it. She wanted to work on communicating better. To start from scratch, little steps, no promises. Was not an easy process, but overall we were making progress, in baby steps.  Until I got so desperate about her video chats, that I violated her privacy, and went through files on her laptop. I found that, when I was still depressed, she was fantasizing about being intimate with him. Plus 6 reasons why that could not be. It seemed that she was pushing him to come over and visit (they are also business partners, he is gonna help her to revive her business). In November. While I was still severely depressed. She could as well have handed me a loaded gun. And those chats were rather insinuating at times.

    I exploded, burst into her bedroom, and confronted her. To keep it short, I am sure she was having an emotional affair,  I let it for what it was. I told her. I also told her that both of the went way too far, that they crossed boundaries.

    All this, up to me exploding when finding files, took like 4 months. Four months of hurt and pain, me getting frustrated, angry, and feeling very desolated and hurt. Now recently I asked her why she did not tell me in what kind of relationship they are (she calls it a spiritual one). She said I was emotionally unstable. I also asked her if she ever spoke to his wife. She said yes.

    Next day, I contacted a dear friend of my wife. She told me that sure, I must have known about how the relationship between wife and friend actually was. Well no, nobody told me. That friend also told me that my wife and his wife also had a special bond, and that they had spoken to each other more then once. I was deeply hurt and devastated, because had my wife told me that she spoke with his wife, I would have gone like “hmm, I suspect there is something going on, but wait, my wife and his wife talk to each other, now would it make sense that there is something going on, I don’t think so”. If she had told me, that would have prevented 4 months of tension, hefty discussions, and unnecessary pain and collateral damage.

    We developed a nasty pattern, our counselor started working on that. Let’s say things happened, I got triggered. So my wife said she is overwhelmed, needs space and wants to be left alone. To her that means, no hugs, not even a goodnight. I need those, it is all intimacy that is left, it is important to me. So I told her recently, she walked away, as usual when it is too much/painful/heavy/confronting for her. I Went like, no, no more walking away, and I followed her to her bedroom. She tried to close her door, I did not let her. she felt violated in her privacy, not for the 1st time, disrespected, and was scared by my behavior.

    About 2 weeks ago, my wife got a call on the landline. She was doing something else, so I went to answer the phone. She came after me and said “let me handle it”. Something was off. She was an a long call, with closed doors (as always nowadays). When she was finished (call was on our landline), I checked the phone. All incoming call numbers were deleted, but the phone also stores the last 10 dialed numbers, so you can quick dial. Now, I checked the numbers, and asked her about the 1st number I found. She contacted a lawyer’s office, specialized in divorce, including how to split real estate and stuff like that during a divorce. My wife said, no, she just wanted to be prepared in case she would not find a job, not able to pay mortgage, and might thus go in forbearance. This was an utter lie, I kept my mouth shut. And I confronted her later with another call. This time she had to admit that yes, and that she wanted to be prepared just in case that our counseling did not work out for us. She might have mentioned that she was looking for some sort of additional/other counseling, but hey, what kind of counseling would a divorce lawyers office provide?

    This is basically what my wife said during a joint a session with our (marriage) counselor: ” I am looking for resources for us to consider IF we cannot work out our triggers. IF we need their counseling services I want to know they will be good enough for both of us.” And: “I need to figure out what they actually mean in their description of what they offer, best to just ask them to find out”. Their description is pretty clear, they offer extra help in order to ease any pains that arise from a divorce. Either she is not being totally honest (would not be the 1st time, and she has a problem with admitting that she was not honest, it is a mental malfunction she developed out of self protection, she admitted that months ago to me after I showed her an article about it.

    She doesn’t seem to be upfront. I know she doesn’t trust me as she did (she actually said that she fully trusted, that that was a mistake, a mistake she will never make again).  She is all about that she wants the best for both of us, and that she loves me, well, how about sitting down with me first?

    During one of our last sessions with our counselor, my wife also said that she does not want to be intimate, and that she wants to try to be friends. So I heard , “divorce lawyers, no intimacy, just friendship”. Plus “no hugs, no good nights”. I need some intimacy, like anyone. So I started thinking about other sources, like “no strings attached”. I am always open and honest, I don’t want to hurt my wife (although I have turned that into a habit). So I talked with her, about my needs as for intimacy, and that maybe I should have a look at dating sites. If she would have responded like “I would feel deeply hurt if you would”,  I would have respected her.

    She said like “hmm, are you sure, you never can tell what kind op people you run into, and they might have expectations, you might run into complications”. And we are trying to work on our triggers, let’s focus on that, it’s important. Put it on the back burner”. She suggested porn sites instead. Few hours later, I got an email that it had been on her mind, and that she was devastated and deeply hurt that I wanted to have sex with others, while we were working on our triggers, and while we are married. I never said that. I responded, and she reacted like a scorned woman.

    It all came out wrong, I apologized sincerely to her.

    So now I was told to pay for my own groceries. Reason being that I am making some money now, and that it is about time for me to take responsibility. I don’t understand. First, I offered (like I did in the past) to make transfers into my wife’s bank account. She uses a credit card that offers savings, that is why we use her card. She said that we are financially ok (which I doubt), and that I should use it to pay for any courses I want to do. Next  I know, I have no longer access to her bankcard, and have to buy my own groceries.

    Last time, I said that I doubted whether our sessions with our counselors are actually helping us, and that I no longer would join. She almost begged me to stay, got emotional, and said she started to cry when she wrote a shopping list just for her.

    I don’t understand her anymore. Why is she behaving like that? Not being upfront, lying and denying (she has lied before, I once, during a session with our counselor, brought up a situation in which she was not honest to me, and in the end she admitted that she had not been honest). She has an issue with being right. She is always “right”. I found that that might be a mental “disorder” (I hate that word, can’t think of a better word). A survival mode that has become part of you. I found an article on the psychologytoday website. She read the article, thanked me, and asked me to help her.

    What is going on?


    Dear Dutchie:

    You (when you were close to your 50s) met her (when she was close to her 60s) 10 years ago for the first time, and 8 years ago for the second time, and the two of you “felt a deep strong connection since first meeting“.

    Fast forward to 2021: “Either she is not being totally honest (would not be the 1st time, and she has a problem with admitting that she was not honest.. She doesn’t seem to be upfront. I know she doesn’t trust me as she did (she actually said that she fully trusted, that that was a mistake, a mistake she will never make again)…. Why is she behaving like that? Not being upfront, lying and denying… She is always ‘right’.. What is going on?“-

    – it seems to me that what has been going on is that the “deep strong connection since first meeting” that you experienced with her for a short time (before you got very depressed, and before her chats with another, married man)- is now a thing of the past: it no longer exists. Seems to me that it may be best for the two of you to separate. How do you feel about living in Europe vs. the U.S.?



    Interesting thought, but no, you are dead wrong. The connection is still there, we still love each other deeply. If not, we would have called it a day already.

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