I have been married for almost eight years, but I've been with my wife for a little over 10 years. We've had arguments, and she told me she hasn't been happy for the past few months which made her reach out to her first love, who is her ex. She says she doesn't love me anymore but loves her ex and that she always loved him. We have four kids together and she said she wants to be happy and that I can keep the kids. She says she needs space from me and time to think. She says she is almost 90 per cent sure she wants a divorce now. Her ex has no one, not even his family to talk to. He wants her to be there for him now, and she feels like she wants to be there for him. What do I do?
Emotional support is what undergirds a relationship, particularly for women, and when this critical component is missing it creates a void and tension in the relationship.
In your situation your wife no longer feels connected to you emotionally and has sought and received emotional support from her ex-boyfriend. Whatever caused her to walk away from him in the first place is of less significance compared to how he makes her feel when she is around him.
The lady said she is unhappy in the marriage as the atmosphere is polluted with toxic energy with all the quarrelling and arguing. No relationship can positively grow and develop in such a dysfunctional setting.
What is even more disturbing is that the children, no doubt, would be witnessing the verbal war in the house and will be negatively impacted.
It appears that communication and conflict management were factors that were not effectively handled which led to problems in the relationship. The mistake couples make is failing to get help and trying to deal with conflictual issues and challenges on their own.
If you don't have the technical skills to handle a particular task, you get help. The same applies to relational challenges. For the better part of the 10 years of being together no effort was made to stem the communication deficit and so it grew out of control to the extent that one of you is now considering walking away from the marriage.
The message to couples therefore is to get help early in the relationship if you observe or experience any sign of discord. Don't wait until the horse has bolted through the gate to try and retrieve him/her. This is what you are now doing which could be a little too late.
Nevertheless, still try to see a marriage counsellor as soon as possible. Your wife is in a vulnerable state and is considering a divorce, so you urgently need to do what is necessary to fix the problem.
You are aware of the emotional needs of your wife — simply provide them. If you do not know what they are, then ask her. What is it that her ex is providing that you are not? The answer could give you a hint.
The ball is in your court, brother…if you don't use it you may lose it. All the best.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.