Should He Blame Her?
Q: My wife and I have been married for 15 years and have two children with special needs. Two years ago my wife started spending more time on the computer and less time participating in family life. I noticed that she's been hiding and deleting things online when I come in the room. A few months ago, we had a fight which resulted in us breaking up. She says there's nothing going on, but I found that she's been emailing pictures of herself to other guys. We are now going to file for divorce. Was it wrong to blame her or should I have let her have more freedom? It was getting old to come home to a pile of dishes in the sink and clothes not done. -- Matt, 42
Dr. Susan: You're asking the wrong question, Matt. If your wife did the dishes and laundry and cooked you a fine dinner, would it then be okay for her to send photos of herself to other men? I don't think so. People who are betraying their mates always deny it at first. "Oh no, honey, I'm not doing anything, nothing at all." Only much later does it come out that they were beginning to tiptoe out of the relationship, but wouldn't do it without the safety net of a new person waiting in the wings. Your wife displayed several signs of someone who was no longer interested in being a good wife to you. Let her have more freedom? I don't even know what that means. Unless it means finding ways to share the burden of those two special needs kids so your wife would have time to pursue other interests (but not other men!). Do look seriously at your own actions that may have led to her dissatisfaction. Were you too critical, focusing too much energy on minor issues of housework and perhaps forgetting how much affection your wife was craving from you? Before giving up on the marriage entirely, perhaps a couple of counseling sessions would help the two of you get at the underlying issues that are pulling you apart. I'd hate to see you divorce as a result of a fight.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.