Has he left the relationship?
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Dear Counsellor,

If a man walks out of the house for no reason, and finds himself at his mom's house living, without notifying his wife, what do you think about him? Am I to take it that he has left the relationship?

Thanks for joining us here on this platform. Well, a man doesn't walk out of the house for "no reason", unless he's mentally unwell. Walking out usually means walking away from something that is perplexing, distressing and overwhelming. As hard as it may be to hear, walking out, or walking away, is at times a very good response to something that is overwhelming. I would fully advise men that are feeling absolutely overwhelmed, to a point of mental breakdown, to get out and get help. It's the smartest and safest thing. There is no shame in getting out and getting help if you are emotionally distressed. The sad reality is that men often don't think they need help to deal with what is overwhelming them emotionally or psychologically. They at times simmer until they explode.

The fact that he's gone to his mother's house isn't an absolutely horrendous thing either. If we can be very practical and very real, at the least he has not run off with someone else and vanished from contact. It seems he's retreating to what he considers a safe and familiar space. Yes, some men may retreat to their mother's house and kitchen way too easily and too frequently. But in the scheme of things, it could be a lot worse. Retreating to "big mama's house" is an easier situation for us to deal with as counsellors; it's harder if he retreats to another woman's house. You haven't mentioned if you both have children, which would change the dynamic of intervention needed. But you've asked what I would say about him — I'd say he sounds like someone struggling for solutions and solace.

Here's my advice to you:

Be patient with him: Don't get flabbergasted by this situation. His leaving doesn't necessarily mean he has ended the relationship. Not notifying you is disrespectful, but it seems to mean he's feeling that there is a breakdown in your communication. Don't give up on him just yet. See if you can kick-start communicating. You may need guidance with that from a counsellor or a mature friend. Hopefully, you can get the help to reach out to him in a way that he can respond positively to. The goal should be dialogue, not debate or demand.

Consider it a learning opportunity: It may sound slight and silly, but this is an opportunity to find out more about yourself, and your partner, in ways that were not possible before. You both should do some introspection now, and assess what you might have done to contribute to this breakdown. It's never usually one person's fault. Ask yourself too what you could've done better to make communication easier for him. Find the silver lining even in this difficult situation.

Be willing to get further help: Unfortunately, some people do not value counselling. Some couples don't realise that everything doesn't always come naturally — some things are best learnt through advice and instruction. Smart couples even get check-ups without there being any "trouble" evident in their relationship. They'll go talk with a counsellor to ensure that an atmosphere is available for discussion on the health of their relationship. So don't fear getting further help, even if it means facing some difficult truths.

Be willing to forgive him: Avoid getting bitter about the situation. Getting bitter will only negatively impact you and those still around you. Bitterness can ruin great opportunities — for the best outcome for all involved, be prepared to forgive him, even if the relationship ends. And wish him the best.

I pray that you resolve this situation amicably and that 'happily ever after' will be your experience.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

with Rev Christopher Brodber

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