Man leaning against garage door

I have been separated from my wife for over a year. I had been having difficulty coping with a number of things, mainly the death of my brother from suicide two years ago.

I talked to my wife about moving out to give us both some space. She didn't want me to move out but I said — give me a few weeks, I knew there would be space for me to stay at my dad's place. She told me that there's no need to wait, it would confuse our three children and I should go now.

I didn't even really want to go but she insisted and within days we had separate bank accounts and she had already started to separate our finances. I never intended for things to go this far and she has refused to talk about anything unless it's about the kids or money. She is now asking for  a divorce as she can't see a way forward. No one else was involved in me leaving, I hadn't had an affair. Although in the year since our separation I have kissed another woman but it didn't lead to sex and I I feel bad about it.

I just want my wife back and can't see any way of getting through to her that I love her and want to give my all to her.

Ammanda says:

The legacy of suicide is always huge. It can lead to families finding it hard to cope in the wake of such tragic events. I don’t want to make any assumptions here, but the first thing that strikes me  is that your brother’s suicide has triggered something for both you and your wife that’s ultimately led to where you are now. I see that there were two years between his suicide and you leaving the family home. Although you don’t give me any details, I can imagine that those years have been so painful and unfortunately, often when we’re in serious emotional distress, talking with a partner can seem just too difficult. Obviously I don’t have any details about what your relationship with your wife was like before but even if things were  good between you, tragedy has a way of making even the most effective communicators feel unavailable to each other. Maybe that happened here.

Your wife’s decision to start putting some distance between you and her may be because she too was hurting and found your request for space a rejection of her needs. Sometimes when couples are angry or disappointed  with each other, one of them wants to find the most efficient way of letting their partner know how angry and upset they are. I don’t know  if that’s how your wife felt but it seems like a possibility given how quickly things moved on. Maybe too,  if you’re really honest with yourself, asking for some space was your way of letting her know she wasn’t giving you the support you needed. Space can be a very positive thing in a relationship but it is so easily misinterpreted if the request comes on top of everything else. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just one of the things that can happen when everyone hurts.

There are few things worse than being denied the chance to make things better. Feeling that you never intended things to get this far and being powerless to change them is very hard and I’m sorry your wife feels she only wants to talk about kids and finance. But this is the situation you’re in and you have to face this now. But you don’t have to face it alone. Your letter is filled with a sense of isolation and I think that’s the first thing you need to work on.  At times like this making best use of wider  family and friends is so important. Even though reaching out can seem like such a big step, it’s often the way that we start to make sense of things. By asking for their help and support, we can start to find ourselves  again in a world that for whatever reason is now very different. I’d also encourage you to see your GP and maybe get some counselling at the surgery and some practical advice from the CAB.

I know you’re asking me to help you get your wife back. Unfortunately I don’t have answer to this and what I’ve written so far may make it seem that I’m assuming there is no going back.  But of course no one knows if that’s really the case. Sometimes people stop and look again at what they think they want to happen. I don’t know if you’ve suggested couple counselling to her but sometimes talking together with a counsellor can help both people start to heal. When you’ve clearly been through so much, starting those tentative conversations sometimes needs some help. It’s possible that if you keep as much reasonable and fair communication going with your wife she might feel able to reconsider but right now you’re left waiting to see if that happens. That’s a tough place to be. Please don’t wait on your own and don’t beat yourself up about kissing another woman. When we’re under stress we sometimes do things that in the cold light of day we regret. The key thing is make sure that you get the right support that’s there, whatever happens.