“My new wife hasn’t cured me of my grief, loss and depression. Shall I leave her?” Psychotherapeutic advice for real change.

I hardly know where to start as I’m so mixed up and unsettled. Six years ago I married for the second time, after four years alone, which were spent searching desperately for Mrs Right.

In 2008, by some good fortune, I thought I’d met a most lovely lady, whom I quickly took to — having had some seriously bad and fruitless blind dates. We married that year, as we both felt it would be right to make our relationship legal and decent as soon as possible.
But now comes the crunch. I am growing increasingly indifferent towards this hard-working, busy lady — despite her love for me. I’m finding life a void, as I just don’t enjoy spending time with her.
Often there is a third person with us wherever we go: namely a camera-phone, which, despite my protestations, always seems to spring from her bag sooner or later. That makes me feel even more alone.

My wife and I are both in our late 50s and quite healthy. Two years ago we moved halfway across the country to be near her relatives and to make a fresh start — which I hoped might help. But it’s only made the situation between us worse, as I’ve not taken to our new surroundings like she has.
I’m becoming seriously depressed and feel there is simply nothing to look forward to any more.
To make matters worse I lost both of my parents in 2012/13, and miss them so much. 
I feel I have reached the end of my tether and would rather be alone, full stop. What advice can you give me?
PS: My first marriage lasted 26 years and produced two children and five grandchildren, whom I rarely see except at weddings, etc. They all have little time for me as they are busy with their own lives.

This letter first appeared in the Daily Mail

My Thoughts:

PS. The real issue in this letter is addressed in the PS, an afterthought. You are still deeply upset by the end of your first marriage and feel abandoned by your own family. You have perhaps tried to move on from them instead of focusing on improving those relationships. Moving on from one’s own children is not possible, as you are finding.

There is something odd straight away about the language of this letter. “Desperately searching for Mrs Right” is a turn of phrase, of course, but it’s quite an ominous beginning. The desperation immediately makes the incipient relationship sound shaky as your need overshadows anything real. You make clear you were looking for the ideal woman who, obviously, doesn’t exist.

The “seriously and bad and fruitless blind dates” followed by a quick marriage in order to be “decent” is also striking. It does sound as though you were in a frantic state, looking for marriage as an institution, as a defence against emptiness and despair. You were looking for something that sounded rather empty (“Mrs Right”) and you found it. You now say you are “indifferent” to your wife and that life is “a void” because you don’t enjoy her company. This is not a particularly complex point, but it sounds as thought it’s your own company you don’t enjoy. You gave her 100% responsibility for your happiness and state of mind before you even met her and now find that she cannot fill your void or help you to enjoy life. You sought a fantasy and ended up with an ordinary woman who could not cure your depression and sense of emptiness.

You try to blame her phone, but it sounds as though you find her and her habits irritating. You don’t say she’s addicted to her phone and ignores you in favour of it. You say she loves you and, by the sounds of it, she takes photos on her phone. You are irritated by her, not by her phone or her addiction to it. You say she is “hard-working” and “busy”.  Perhaps you feel neglected by her as well as by your children, whom you also describe as “busy”, and this might be addressed by telling them this, as a start. (I wonder if you had parents who were too busy for you, though you make no reference to this. Still, it’s a theme and perhaps a long-familiar state).

Again you try a “fresh start” (presumably both acknowledging that marriage itself was not enough of a fresh start) but you haven’t “taken to the new surroundings.” You state clearly that you are “becoming seriously depressed” and say there is “nothing to look forward to”. You feel the woman and the surroundings are the problem – this seems unlikely.

Clearly you are very unwell and feel terrible, but the mistake you are making is to blame your wife and/or the countryside. I would suggest you were already depressed before you met her and you are now using her as a defence against looking at the real causes and effects of your depression. You feel if she would change or if you could be with someone else somewhere else you’d be happy. This is probably not true.

You are recently bereaved (mentioned almost as an aside) and you are also missing your children and grandchildren. It has been a devastating time for you and it sounds as though you hoped a new relationship would cure you. You are blaming your wife for her failure to do this but really it sounds as though there is a lot of work to do on yourself. The catastrophic loss of your parents and your first family are things you perhaps haven’t worked through and these losses are still having a powerful effect on you.

Of course, your new wife may also be an irritating and unsuitable partner – your desperation to find her and the quick marriage suggest that you didn’t take much time to get to know her or to think about what you really needed (not from a partner, but from life, from yourself, from some therapy). She was a safety net or a life raft rather than a person to you by the sounds of it. It may well be that you would be better able to sort yourself out and deal with your grief without her, but the focus should be on you improving your state of mind rather than on her changing or on leaving her.

Advice for lasting change via Skype or email: annablundy@gmail.com

About Anna Blundy

Honorary psychotherapist with a Masters in Psychoanalytic Theory and another in Psychodynamic Clinical Psychotherapy. Novelist - Author of the Faith Zanetti quintet - The Bad News Bible, Faith Without Doubt, Neat Vodka (US - Vodka Neat), Breaking Faith, My Favourite Poison. Also a memoir of my father, Every Time We Say Goodbye and my most recent thriller - The Oligarch's Wife
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