Putting a Humpty-Dumpty marriage together again.
April 1, 2013 2:46 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I separated six months ago. Now, after marriage and individual counselling, it looks like we might be ready to give things another shot. How do we go about re-integrating our lives whilst there are still small alarm bells ringing?

There was no abuse involved in our separation - which was my decision - just a lot of arguing, almost every day, and an utter inability to communicate about it. There was a long-standing trust issue on my wife's side - she would snoop my emails, phone, twitter, etc. because she couldn't believe I wasn't cheating - and there was an isolationist tendency on my side which meant that I wouldn't communicate when hurt. Pretty much a soup of mess.

So I decided to leave. It was heartbreaking for both of us, but I still maintain - as does my wife - that it was the right thing to do. I moved the really important stuff of mine out of the house, found an apartment, and started to make a life for myself.

We started to see a marriage counsellor together in January, having taken a while to find one that we both liked. We also saw individual counsellors (she a counsellor, me a therapist). I had been seeing mine for a while but my leaving was the catalyst for my wife starting to see someone (hitherto she'd refused, believing that all counsellors were quacks).

We've been through an intensive period of counselling, and we finished there a couple of weeks ago (these particular counsellors specifically state that they expect your time with them to be around the six-eight week mark). By the time we'd finished, we'd talked through most of the big problems that we'd had. We'd definitely both grown and changed and I was starting to feel like maybe - maybe - we could make this work. And I said so. I wasn't ready to move straight back but we started seeing more of each other (we'd already been having date nights once or twice a week since I left).

Now we're left with the task of reintegrating our lives, and we're a bit confused about how to go about them. My wife, particularly, keeps asking how I'm going to make room for her in my life now, since whilst we were separated i took the opportunity to join clubs and follow interests I'd always had but had never pursued. How does one go about fitting back in to a life you'd started to leave behind?

Also, though the therapy is over, and we seem to be able to communicate more now, I'm still concerned about some things, and I don't know how to deal with them:

- My wife gets very upset when I talk about the things that I've bought for my apartment (furniture and so on) and keeps insisting that they'd remain "mine" when I got back, rather than "ours" (by contrast, the car is "ours" even though I paid for it, because it was bought before we separated).
- My wife is still twitter-stalking me a little bit - she'll ask me about twitter conversations that I've had, though she doesn't use twitter herself and doesn't have an account. She'll also occasionally talk about the twitter-lives of my friends, which I find odd.
- Sex seems to be a bigger problem for us than I remember it being; for some reason I'm finding it hard right now to feel in the mood, which will occasionally upset my wife (because she thinks it means I'm not interested in her). Our communication improvements have helped here, but I still feel like I don't quite know how to address all this.
- My wife wants us to go away together next week for three nights. I don't mind this, exactly, but for some reason I feel more nervous about it than excited.

I've committed loosely to having moved back by the start of May. I'd not been wholly sure about that but both my wife and therapist felt that I was avoiding the question. I think I still want to go ahead with that, but there's a bit of me that feels like I'm not moving fast enough to satisfy my wife's needs in this (though she hasn't told me so; just that she doesn't think it'll be possible).

Some people are going to say that we should go back to therapy, but that's not an immediate option; there's a long waiting list. Also, I'm in the process of looking for a new therapist for myself - I've done a lot good work with my current one, but we've both agreed that we've come to the end of our path together.

Can anyone help me understand how I can deal with the alarm bells and the complexities of reconciliation, given that I'm generally a conflict-avoidy type? I've tried to talk about them using the techniques we learned in counselling but for some reason the conversations have all felt hollow and unfulfilling.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you are having alarm bells going off now, you should wait before moving forward with the reconciliation plans. And honestly, you don't sound super excited to be getting back together. Do you have kids? If not, then I would put this whole thing on ice for a much longer period of time.
posted by nanook at 2:50 PM on April 1, 2013 [17 favorites]

It sounds like you need to slow down the reconciliation process. You don't fully trust your wife's motivations, and she doesn't fully trust you. That's a terrible basis for a relationship, even one you've been in before.
posted by xingcat at 2:52 PM on April 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

Slow way down, I guess. If this was someone you were just dating, I'd say I don't think this is going to work out, but you seem to want to... actually, you seem like you WANT to want to reconcile, but maybe just because you're supposed to want to. I'd recommend spending some time with those feelings, and if you can't find a therapist then I mean nightly sitting down and journaling the hell out of them. For a couple of months minimum before you start "re-integrating" and going away for weekends.

I have to say this just made me sad for you: since whilst we were separated i took the opportunity to join clubs and follow interests I'd always had but had never pursued.

My husband and I celebrate exactly this quality in each other. That's sad that you're not allowed to be yourself without threatening her.

I'd not been wholly sure about that but both my wife and therapist felt that I was avoiding the question

Yikes. You were forced to commit to May because your wife and therapist thought you were dragging your feet giving an answer?

You don't sound like you want to go back. You sound like you're doing what everyone else expects you to do. That's not going to end well, not even if you do it to avoid conflict. Eventually somebody's going to snap.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:03 PM on April 1, 2013 [15 favorites]

Missed the part where you say you love her, want to be with her and can't wait to move back in with her.

What do you want to do? Forget what your therapist wants. When you talk to yourself, what does that person say to you?
posted by sageleaf at 3:05 PM on April 1, 2013 [27 favorites]

First: Don't take advance from the DTFMA crowd here. Second: you should read "Divorce Remedy" by Michele Weiner-Davis and visit the website divorcebusting.com. There is a forum there with topics on putting things back together and keeping changes going.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:16 PM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Therapy is over, yet it sounds like a good bit of therapy is still required. All of the items you listed as areas of concern are indicating that there are still major problems afoot. It's a good sign that you've both made so much progress, but that doesn't mean that the work is finished. Don't rush to move in and reintegrate before you have a handle on how to move forward in a enthusiastic and healthy way.

Get on whatever waiting lists you need to for more couples counseling, get a new therapist for yourself, and encourage your wife to pursue some of her interests, or develop some. From the items you listed as concerns, it sounds like your wife's major hobby is cyberstalking you and getting upset when there's evidence that you've existed outside of your marital unit. That doesn't indicate a balanced partnership.
posted by quince at 3:20 PM on April 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think the reason why you're not chomping at the bit to go home again is because your wife hasn't stopped entirely doing the red-flag shit, like the stalking. Also, bitching because you bought furniture and had hobbies without her? Really?! That's not okay or allowed for married people now? I don't think I'd want to move back in with her either if she can't graciously accept that you might have interests without her, or for that matter, that you AREN'T cheating and thus don't need to be stalked. She sounds like she's going beyond the reasonable levels of clingy, into smothering.

Don't go home yet. She's red-flagging me too and I don't even know her.

I suspect this is kind of a sunk costs thing--like if this was just dating, you would have broken up, but since you're married you have to make really, really damn sure it's worth the cost of a divorce/leaving. It may just be. Don't move back in if you don't really want to go, or don't feel like things are going to be okay if you do. Easier to keep the apartment now, right?
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:32 PM on April 1, 2013 [9 favorites]

I'd just like to point out that email snooping is way more creepy than twitter snooping, since twitter is publicly available.

My parents don't have twitter accounts but check my feed every so often- it's a way of keeping in touch without having massive ind-epth conversations- even though we have those occasionally now that I've moved out.

your wife might just be interested in your twitter life, that's all. I wouldn't hold this against her- but there are obviously other issues to work through.
posted by titanium_geek at 3:35 PM on April 1, 2013

I seem to remember you have posted before on different phases of this issue several times - a lot of what you are saying is ringing a bell. You clearly want unprejudiced answers this time round - hence the anonymous, so I'll try to not come from a biased place.

That being said - it seems that your relationship with your wife is suffering from the same issues which lead to your separation. Therapy was too short to solve them and has only worked very superficially (I'm no specialist, but there seems to be an agreement that deep-seated problems require more than 6-8 weeks). To me, it seems that you are both anxious - she, that you might cheat on her or whatever, hence she has a heightened need to control, you are anxious enough to not be able to know your own mind, or else to validate yourself when you know it. This needs way more work than 2 months.

The way things are going now, it doesn't really seem you two communicate all that well. Sure, you learned the outer trappings of what mature, understanding communication looks like, what knowing and reinforcing your boundaries looks like. But I feel you both are miles away from what makes a good relationship - lots of love, respect, trust in yourself, and the ability to freely give and express love, respect and trust towards the other.

This is all to say - I think you're rushing things massively, that you'll have the exact same problems as you did before, but now hidden by a screen of "communication", and that you have to go back to therapy and sort of "find yourself" (both of you) before you can truly think of trying again. Sorry.
posted by miorita at 3:38 PM on April 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

One way to get around the therapy thing is to read a lot of books (okay, it's not quite the same, but it's in the ballpark) on communication, marriage, relationships, conflict avoidance, being assertive, etc. That is something you can do every day.

The other thing is to not be pressured into anything. If you're not ready, you're not ready. If you're almost-ready, but not quite because of x, y and z, then that's okay (or at least it should be, damn therapist).

If you don't want to go away together, don't - if you're not in the mood for sex, then you're not in the mood.

The furniture, hobbies, interests - they should all be part of the fabric and instead it sounds like they're symbolic threats to your wife. So, I can't help with that - she needs to be more flexible.

I also don't get a sense of 'I can't wait to be back together' - I get a sense that some of it is pleasant and enjoyable but not that your socks are being knocked off. [But then my barometre for great relationships is a bit like Doctor Who (OMGadventurefuntimesyay!) - so YMMV]. Point being - are you enjoying this and is this matching your level of enjoyment for happiness?

Alarm bells are a sign something isn't right (obvious is obvious). It's different from anxiety - which is built on habit mostly. But alarm bells are a 'stop, look, pay attention' thing. And we mostly don't - we mostly move ahead and don't heed them but they're there for a reason. I can't tell you what that reason is in your case. But every time I've 'heard' them, they've been right. It might have taken a long time for me to get what they were trying to tell me because I might have wanted to believe otherwise, but they were always right.
posted by heyjude at 3:49 PM on April 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

You come across as ridiculously passive and afraid to express yourself. That's fine, some of us are introverts! But you're now both engaged in this tea-leave-reading. You don't make definitive statements. And you *think* your ex is mad at you, but you don't know.

Aren't you driving yourself crazy? Aren't you tired of driving yourself crazy? Do you want to be a victim your whole life?

I really don't care if you and your wife get back together, or how you do it. You're not giving me any reason to care. It just sounds miserable.

But you should care. What you care about matters. Stop being afraid to admit to yourself what's important to you. Speak up. Speak up loudly. Overcompensate at first, it'll level off. Do what you want! We can't even tell from out here what it is you do want! You're so faint, you don't even leave an impression in this question. Everything you talk about is outside you.

And pursue the activities that you have chosen to never make important to you before, despite the fact that these were things you always wanted to do. Go on date nights with your ex-wife, if and when you want to. This nightmare process has been endless. And it's over. You separated. Either start over or don't.

One tip though: if someone tells you they're "upset" that you're not in the mood to have sex, tell them to go write in their diary and leave you out of it. That's just rude and manipulative and gross.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:53 PM on April 1, 2013 [15 favorites]

I think you deal with the alarm bells by trusting your gut. People moving in together should be excited, happy, a looking forward to it kind of sensation. It shouldn't take on the feeling of dentist, root canal, or your world becoming smaller or shutting down. You might not be excited, and that's okay. It might not be the right thing for you to do right now. Or ever.

Perhaps it might help to remember that you will have the rest of your lives together. Therefore there is no rush to move back in together. 3 months, a year, whatever. There is no rush.

Rushing - perhaps to 'put it all behind you' or to 'move forward' or to 'make your wife happy', is probably not going to work. You feel how you feel. And if you feel like you'd like you can't say when you're going to be ready to move back, then that's how you feel, and it's okay. Tell her that. It's important to be honest, I think. Honor how you feel, and live apart and see where it goes. It might lead you back to her. It might not. I think this will be more peaceful if you accept that fact, even though she clearly might not want to.

You slowly started untangling your lives, and I think the question is how do you continue to incorporate your new interests into that life, regardless of whether your wife is with you or not. One would hope that she'd be interested in figuring out how to incorporate your new interests into your life together as well. And getting all resentful over the furniture is understandable, but sort of petty. This is your path, and while it may have taken you away from her, that's no reason to treat it like the time, and the stuff you've done and learned and gained during that time, is taboo, or off limits, or a pariah. You grew.

I won't lie - if my partner told me that they wanted to live apart from me, part of me would be crushed. But I'd like to think that I had the right to decide how long I would be okay with it, and when I wasn't, say so and bail. But I'd like to think that even living apart, I'd get to see my partner for dates, and we'd be in each other's lives. I'd like to think that if I sensed hesitation on their side that I'd fight every demon to not pressure them, and let our relationship unfold, perhaps unconventionally. You can have a close marriage and live apart. You can live with someone and be alone. How do you feel at the idea of staying in your place for the rest of the year. Not how you think it will make your wife feel, but how do you feel? Does it seem peaceful? Enjoyable? You've only been out of the house for about 3 months, it sounds like? What's the rest of the year? It might be the best thing for you. It sounds like it might be important to you. If she can't give you that, then she might lose you, even if you do move back home. Being able to keep tabs on you isn't the same as having your heart. She can have that, even if you're in your apartment and she's in the house you guys bought.
posted by anitanita at 3:59 PM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you like your wife? It sounds like she doesn't like you because you don't openly share things with her and she feels lonely and unsure of what she means to you.

She probably loves you, but probably also senses that you don't want to or aren't able to build a relationship built on friendship and sharing with her.

Twitter stalking may be her way of trying to get closer to you, understand you better.

But you are describing her kind of like a burden and someone to be fended off, or a drag. Are you trying to be her friend?
posted by discopolo at 4:24 PM on April 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

The only part I have practical advice for is twitter - I'd encourage her to make an account so she can follow you 'legitimately'. Even if she never tweets herself, it might help make her feel more part of the conversation, more part of your presence there, and less stalky on both sides.

That said, you don't sound like this is something you really want to do yet, if at all, and I would counsel against it all the time these bells keep ringing. It sounds like your wife is still scared of losing you and is pressuring you to come back as soon as possible, and you still feel nagged and monitored and resentful of losing the freedom you've gained. Which is totally understandable.

(Full disclosure: at one point in my marriage I moved out. While we didn't go to therapy, my husband and I both agreed it was the right decision and necessary for our relationship to survive. After three months of best behaviour and date nights, I moved back in, despite not really wanting to and feeling a little resentful that my new-found freedom had been cut off. The relationship survived another two years, which admittedly is two years longer than it would have had I not moved out/back in, and we are now amicably divorced.)
posted by corvine at 4:38 PM on April 1, 2013

I don't see any reason to move back in right now. Continue date nights, wait until you can continue therapy, and let the anxiety and problems find their natural path. Is your wife giving you a deadline? Because that's a really bad sign, considering her past. Don't swallow the hook with the bait! If she has truly changed, she'll have still truly changed 6 months from now. And honestly, you need a few more supporting timbers yourself patched up. Emotionally healthy people who can go it alone make better partners.
posted by Dynex at 4:48 PM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't know you, I'm not in your head and I'm not in your bed. But not wanting to open yourself to her sexually, I'm thinking you don't want to open to her period, and it's showing up in bed, where things so often show up. I don't know her, either, but might be that she's upset about that because she'd rather you just show up, rather than be true to yourself.

That and the twitter snooping thing, super-big red flags. The furniture thing is no fun either, wouldn't be for me I mean, wtf is that about anyways, you were going to sit on the floor? Now it's Yours, rather than just a chair you bought? Sounds gamey to me.

Seems to me that often people are in a big hurry to get back together because they wish to resume the status quo. They seem to want their cake and they want to eat it, too, they want the other party to move back in -- their cake -- yet they don't want to change to make it happen.

They're in a hurry because they don't want new habits to be formed, much less fixed.

I don't think you want to move back in and I don't blame you.

I think that pretty much any marriage can be saved, if both parties are open to telling the truth about conflicts. I just don't think all of the truth is on the table yet, or maybe it gets put on the table in the presence of a couples therapist and then gets taken back off the table In Real Life, where things can get awfully confusing.

Walk slow.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:19 PM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Re: the furniture thing...
I feel like it depends on the furniture whether she's being weird. For example: If you bought a new couch and your old house had a couch, what do you do with your couch when/if you move back in? Do you put it in storage? Do you put the OLD couch in storage? Who pays for the storage? Are you going to sell it? Does the money from selling it go into the shared pot or is it just your money because it was just your couch? If you leave again, do you take it with you, meaning it was never "ours" and it was always "yours?" Will she one day be couchless because it's your couch and not hers? To me, this is a conversation about space making, commitment, and ownership, not pissiness.

Then again, if it's something totally sweet, like an awesome craft bench, maybe she's saying it's definitely yours because she respects your space, or is at least trying to. Like, my husband's computer is "his" even if it's the only computer in the house, because it's specifically FOR HIM, he's personalized it, and feels a sense of "mine-ness" about it that I don't.

Anyways, one way to deal with the alarm bells you are hearing is to have a mediated conversation hosted by your present therapist.
posted by spunweb at 5:21 PM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think you're smart to be paying attention to the alarm bells, even if you don't quite know what they mean yet. Like others have said, what's the rush in getting back together? It sounds like there's still a whole lot that needs to be figured out.

Or for another way of looking at it: how difficult was it for you to get out this first time? How bad did things have to get before you knew you couldn't continue like that? Do you think the amount of work the two of you have done so far is enough to have really resolved those issues? If things go south again, do you think you'll have whatever it takes to get yourself out of the situation a second time?

Things probably didn't get bad overnight (or even within 6 months), and they'll probably take a while to really work through. Give yourself a little more time.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:23 PM on April 1, 2013

You state there are still alarm bells.

What exactly do you want us to do or say??

I'm sorry. We can't change your wife into someone emotionally stable, someone who isn't (at least via your descriptions) incredibly manipulative.

I'm sorry. Even in this carefully worded anonymous question, you don't sound as if you love or like your wife very much. We can't help you like or love someone you're not into.

I dunno. Maybe instead of another therapist, you could get some assertiveness training? Do something (anything!) that helps you follow through on your plans??

You've gotten to the point where, instead of facing what is inside of you, you are triangulating with us here in the AskMe's. Or trolling. You might be trolling us. I can't tell.

But let's proceed as though you are sincere, shall we? OK.

What happened to you inside when your wife and the marriage counselor got together and convinced you to stay in the marriage and move back in a few weeks ago?

Because before this happened, you were going to counseling to work out the details of the divorce. I'm thinking maybe your answer about how to deal with these current issues might be back there in that moment.

Also, if you are both still in counseling, and yet here you are asking the types of questions best resolved in therapy....

posted by jbenben at 6:23 PM on April 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

Close your twitter account. Who really needs twitter, anyway?

Try to include her in your new hobbies and/or help her find hobbies of her own, that do not include stalking you.

Start selling 'your' furniture. Use the money to buy something nice for the two of you.

Go away for the 3 day weekend. Do not discuss issues. Play, have fun, rediscover what you like about the two of you.

Move back in right away and commit to a marriage that you weren't really all that committed to in the beginning. Either she will sense your commitment and begin to trust you or she won't, but at least you will know that you really tried.

Marriage isn't always fun. Sometimes you have to fake it until you feel it. So long as no one is being abused, suck it up, be a man, and make love to your wife properly. A sexually satisfied woman is happier, healthier, and less inclined to stalk you.

If you cannot do the above then just get a divorce and get it over with. She deserves better than what you are currently giving her.
posted by myselfasme at 6:39 PM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't want to unfairly derail the thread if I'm wrong, but are you the same person who has been posting question after question about this relationship?

If you're not the same person, there's some excellent advice in this thread where someone in a very similar situation asks whether they should reconcile with their partner when there were red flags like the ones you describe. I think your gut is telling you the answer: you're dreading a three-day vacation with your wife. What more do you need to know? No one can tell you how to reconcile your instinct that something is horribly wrong with whatever rationalizations are making you think it's a good idea to move back in with her.

I suspect that you are the same person, however, and that despite the excellent advice in response to your last question you've reconciled with your wife. I don't know what you're hoping to get from this question because the collective wisdom of the people on this site seems to be falling on deaf ears. The advice over the six months you've been asking about this relationship has been pretty consistent. If you are the same person, please reconsider what that advice and your heart seem to be telling you.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 6:48 PM on April 1, 2013 [15 favorites]

There was a long-standing trust issue on my wife's side

It really jumped out at me in your description that your wife has trust issues/believes you are cheating without you immediately following it up by saying you never cheated. If you DID cheat, then her trust issues are kind of valid, no? And if your response to valid trust concerns was stonewalling and isolating activity then you were reinforcing her concerns about not trusting you. After any type of cheating when the partners wish to reconcile there should be renewed commitment - which is pretty much the opposite of moving out and moving on building a separate life. If you did not cheat, none of what I wrote is relevant and I apologise.

To be honest, it sounds like you are really running hot and cold over commitment to your wife, which is really giving her a lot of (understandable) anxiety. I think the kindest thing is to make up your own mind about your commitment to your marriage and follow through on your decision.
posted by saucysault at 7:27 PM on April 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm going to pretend you were never married to this person and have no history at all. She's just somebody you're dating 2-3 times a week who you have a long list of issues with.

Should you move in with her? No. You're not ready.

Should you marry her? No. You're not ready.

I don't see how the history changes the answers to these questions.

Good luck.
posted by mmoncur at 8:12 PM on April 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

Not wanting to derail but re: @Colonel_Chappy: This thread isn't by me.

I was going to point to my own posting history here - I've posted far too many questions navigating out of my own mess so feel free to look them up.

Don't go back. I haven't - based on good advice here. It was hard to say "no" but it was even harder to leave the first time around - can you imagine how hard it would be to leave again if things blew up because you rushed?
posted by six sided sock at 1:23 AM on April 2, 2013 [10 favorites]

Mod note: For future reference, please don't speculate about anonymous askers' identities. This includes correlating questions, however similar they may seem. I do not doubt anyone's good intentions here and it turned out well in this instance, but this sort of thing could easily put users in the undesirable position of either outing themselves or leaving the identity question unresolved: either choice would negate the point of the anonymous function in some way.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 3:04 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing that you shouldn't go back yet. I also think you should consider taking an assertiveness course and learn to express your needs better- it sounds like you get pushed around and dumb yourself down a lot. I know what that's like; I'm the same way.

If you start off being a pleaser and not asserting yourself, the other party comes to expect that, and when their demands start to wear on you and you start resisting, they can get (understandably) frustrated and it can turn into a big ol' mess. Especially if you don't find yourself able to express yourself well. You can withdraw, and they can't understand why, and so maybe they think something's wrong, or that you're cheating, and they need to know what it is so they start behaving badly (especially if they have a high need for control; many people who need control are prone to being anxious).

I think you basically need to renegotiate your roles in this relationship, but you need to start by learning how to be aware of what YOU want and need, and expressing that. You might find the book "Boundaries" helpful. This is a long process- I honestly think you should wait at least six more months before moving back in. You need to build up your emotional strength. I applaud your willingness to try to reconcile with your spouse- that's commitment and I think it's great.
posted by windykites at 5:50 AM on April 2, 2013

You are not anywhere NEAR ready to move back in together. You also both need a lot more therapy than you've currently got under your belt.

As a person, you are allowed to have clubs and hobbies apart from your wife. Husbunny and I have many different pursuits that do not intersect. It's fine.

Your wife's inability to trust you, when there's no reason for it, is a deal-breaker. It will always drive a wedge into your relationship. Unless and until she truly trusts you, your marriage will always be fragile and cracked.

You should only move when you can't bear being apart from her, and frankly, you're not there yet.

Just because you think you'll reconsile, doesn't mean you have to rush it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:49 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's what one good sign for reconciling would look like, to me: your wife is glad that you are pursuing hobbies that give you pleasure, and would like to perhaps share some of them (not all of them) with you, and/or is eager to share her excitement about her own new hobbies with you. This would signify that you are both seeing yourselves (and each other) as autonomous individuals, and that this is something to be celebrated and nurtured, rather than viewed as threatening and in need of being suppressed.

Does this sound like the two of you now? Does this sound like a likely place where the two of you are headed?
posted by scody at 8:58 AM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm with saucysalt - your wife's behavior means one thing to me if you were cheating, and another if you weren't. Not saying what she's doing is helping the situation but it would help me to understand her motives a little better.

For example, if you were cheating, I can totally understand her checking out your Twitter account. The fact that she mentions it to you is way better than if she didn't. If you were cheating, she probably wonders who else sat on your new couch. And so on.

If you weren't, then I'd say things look even more dismal, because then there's trust issues for no reason, which I would think are even harder to overcome.
posted by lyssabee at 9:12 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

[My sincere apologies, OP and six sided sock.]

Your question really resonates with me because I've been in a similar situation. For me the moment of truth was realizing that I was dreading spending a week in Paris with my significant other. Something inside you is telling you this is a bad idea. The situation doesn't have to be perfect before you reconcile, but you should be sure that re-entering a difficult situation is what you want.

I firmly believe that it's critical to have a life for oneself outside of one's relationship. It's healthy for you to have friends and interests outside of your marriage. It's worrying that your wife is threatened by this and even sees your new furniture as a potential threat to marital unity. You don't have to give up this new life you love in order to reconcile with your wife.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 9:54 AM on April 2, 2013

My wife gets very upset when I talk about the things that I've bought for my apartment.
This may look to her as though you are moving on with your life rather than planning on reconciling any time soon. If you were planning on moving back in with her, you wouldn't be out buying doubles of everything would you? It probably feels to her like a lack of future investment and commitment from you.

My wife is still twitter-stalking me a little bit - she'll ask me about twitter conversations that I've had, though she doesn't use twitter herself and doesn't have an account. She'll also occasionally talk about the twitter-lives of my friends, which I find odd
It is possible she may be feeling really left out of the loop of your new life, to go from being husband and wife back to dating is a big down-step and can really knock you off of your feet when it sinks in that you've been downgraded from partner to date. She may be feeling insecure about you developing a new life that doesn't include her because it points to lack of future investment and commitment.

Sex seems to be a bigger problem for us than I remember it being; for some reason I'm finding it hard right now to feel in the mood, which will occasionally upset my wife (because she thinks it means I'm not interested in her).
She probably feels rejected and due to not being a part of your life anymore, this is yet another factor that points to lack of future investment and commitment from your end. If her lack of trust in you is due to any type of dishonesty, secrecy, or infidelity, this may be triggering for her.

"My wife wants us to go away together next week for three nights. I don't mind this, exactly, but for some reason I feel more nervous about it than excited."
She's trying to reconnect. You are pulling away and there's no way she is not noticing it. Your lack of enthusiasm over this would be yet another thing that points to your lack of future investment and commitment.

Look, it's one thing to not know where you stand with your wife in the midst of a separation, but its a whole 'nother to sting her along for months and months while you figure out whether you're actually still in love with her and topping it all with a heavy dose of prosecution for her subsequent feelings of instability, insecurity and rejection that she is surely going though on her end.
From the sounds of your post, she is still very much wanting to be with you and you are very much not knowing how to let her down and let her go.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 10:02 AM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

You sound like a man ALMOST ready to go have his face stomped on for a few hours.

You say have communication problems, avoidance and trust issues. But here you are not communicating, she still doesn't trust you and you are continuing to be avoid and isolate.

given that I'm generally a conflict-avoidy type

You need to be willing to have conversations that might end your marriage to save your marriage. The path of eggshell walking leads nowhere.

But the greater question here why do you want to go back? What are you excited about? What are you looking forward to with her?

given that I'm generally a conflict-avoidy type

Is it that you don't want to get divorced because that would be too much conflict? Because we both know that is a terrible reason to be married.
posted by French Fry at 2:26 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

« Older Is an org. legally required to generate 1099 forms...   |   Improve Your Vocabulary Tape From The 1980s Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.