My wife and I had a whirlwind romance, a picture-perfect wedding and an amazing honeymoon. Then tragedy struck. My father died, my mother fell ill and I was struggling at my job while being a caregiver to my mother and looking after the family affairs. My wife got pregnant and I could not accompany her to doctor’s visits ‘at times’ and I relied on my mother-in-law to pitch in to be there for her. I was extremely stretched, and tried my best to be there as much as I could. My child is now 1 year old and my wife recently said that she has ‘fallen out of love’ with me because I have not been there for her. She wants to end the marriage. I love her immensely. What happened to the wedding vows -- ‘In good times and in bad’, ‘for better or for worse’? I am devastated. What should I do?
Ans: It may feel like quite the ultimatum for you to be stretched at so many ends of the emotional spectrum but it’s important to not go down the nasty path of guilt and self-blame at this point. If you convince yourself that you did the best you could then maybe it’s important to understand that your best may see differently by various people with a varying degree of an investment in how you live.
Understandably, you had certain shoes to quickly fit into with a highly sped up and difficult onboarding process. While it would have been ideal for your wife to understand what you too have gone through, maybe she doesn’t understand the degree to which you are affected by all this. A heartfelt 2-way dialogue where concerns are shared is ideal and a relationship counsellor may help pave the path towards a healthy reconciliation.
Then again, there are no guarantees at this stage since the picture is far from rosy. The whirlwind romance you speak of had to settle at some point as strong winds even in nature often transition into dull air currents. Overfamiliarity and predictability seep into even the most resilient relationships and then for no fault of the couple, a sense of boredom and stagnation may follow where the couple struggles to understand each other’s evolving personalities and priorities.
Wedding wows are symbolic of a willingness to offer support and care when times are tough. Having said that, not everyone is often up to the task of offering up that kind of care regardless of what they say during an emotional ceremony in front of an equally emotional audience.
The term ‘falling out of love’ implies a ‘fall’ from a certain height that a romance had reached. Sometimes it’s important for this to be communicated to someone who claims to have ‘fallen’ and a counsellor may help orient your wife towards your pain and also teach you how to be a strong pillar of support to your wife in a manner that comes close to addressing some of her expectations from you are her husband.
Maybe your wife struggled to communicate her needs to you and perhaps you too couldn’t impress upon her how overwhelmed you felt given the circumstances that you’ve described. Beyond the love you feel her are the real-world concerns that are tugging at you. Work place and home place problems following the death of loved ones may feel like an emotional avalanche.
You cannot force her to stay married to you but you can express a desire to work towards some kind of mid-way settlement to show her in all earnestness that you haven’t stopped caring about her and the relationship you both share.