My wife leaves me
After 17 years of a love life that I thought imperturbable, my wife wants to divorce: she does not love me anymore and wishes to live something else. I am totally lost. For 3 years, she has changed a lot in a positive way (job, weight loss, change of dress style ...) ... What did I do, or not do, to get there? Thierry, 32
Psychiatrist and psychotherapist
To answer your last question, there is surely nothing you have not done ... or not done to get there. You describe me a sadly classic couple trajectory ...
17 years ago, your needs and priorities were certainly different today: you are united on the basis of a love and a project common. However, at least three parameters are constantly changing over time: 1. yourself as a person, 2. your companion as a person with its specific needs and priorities (which are not necessarily synchronous with yours ... ) and 3. the relationship between you two. For example, your relationship had to adjust to the arrival of your children: the lines of force of your couple were changed and you found together a new point of balance.
But there is one parameter on which you have no (or little) impact: it is how your partner evolves internally. Even if there is still love, even if the communication is preserved, it is sometimes possible that the personal evolution of the person is done in a sense that no longer progressively corresponds to the initial couple project. And there, imperceptibly, the paths begin to diverge.
We do not even realize it sometimes; neither oneself, nor even the partner: one changes of work, one discovers new horizons, new perspectives, one changes his silhouette and the one looks on oneself. We remain attached to small pleasures of the present but a dissatisfaction of background settles because one realizes that his world as it was conceived and created until then is more and more in shift with what one aspires.
You even feel guilty about your spouse because there comes a point where you do not even know how to tell him you want something else. Communication is restricted because we are afraid of doing harm. We share less and less, but we continue to evolve silently, without anyone being aware of anything. All this is very progressive over time and yet, one morning, we wake up thinking that we want to radically change lives, to general surprise (I describe all these steps in my book: "The broken couple" ) ...
What latitude of action remains then?It all depends on where your partner is internally ... Has she already burned too many bridges behind her so that a step back is no longer possible? Is there still enough space to save the relationship by getting help with a couple therapy? ... only you can know: it's time now to put things flat and evaluate together if it's possible to make a fresh start.
I do not want to be pessimistic, but, if that proves impossible, you will have to confront yourself to the possibility of a break, avoiding as much as possible to tear yourself apart ... Then, for you, Thierry, the mourning of a relationship that has ceased to be viable ...