I'm in need of some advice/opinions about some problems I am having in my relationship.
Me and my wife have been together for 18 years. The first 16 were fine - she has always
been very loving and kind towards me. She would regularly tell me how she loved me.
She has suffered from depression since the age of 16, and has had occasional very low points
since we've been together, but she has always come out of them after a few days.
About 7 years ago she started doing CBT, which she found to be very helpful. In fact,
she hasn't had any episodes of depression since then.
Two and a half years ago, we had our first child. The pregnancy and birth went fine, pretty
much textbook. She was of course exhausted afterwards, but we were both obviously happy to
have our new daughter. The first few months were as you would expect - very tiring, but
she seemed to be taking to motherhood very well, and seemed happy enough.
I can't pinpoint exactly when the change happened, but at some point her personality has
changed quite remarkably, and in a negative direction. She seems to have lost all love
or positive feelings towards me, and has become hyper-critical of everything and anything
I do. A whole day can go by, and the only words that will come out of her mouth will
be a criticism of me, or a negative comment about someone or something that has happened
during the day. I literally cannot remember the last time she made a positive comment
Some examples: Despite us having been together for 18 years, she has now started
criticizing everything I wear. She told me recently that she is embarrassed to be seen
out with me. Now, I'm not the "dressing up" type, but the way I dress has certainly
not changed for the worse recently. She is now annoyed by any of my jumpers which have
"bobbled" (or "piled" may be the correct word?). My jumpers are not old, not torn, not
dirty in any sense, but she seems to think it's a disgrace that I go out of the house
wearing one that has bobbles on it. We were outside when we had this conversation
(just going down the road to recycle some things, not to any event or anything), and
I pointed to the people around us, who were in no way dressed any better than I was.
But she still seemed to believe that I was dressed in a terrible fashion. And not just
that, but the conversation ended with her saying that maybe we just cannot live together
I could understand someone telling me they didn't like the way I dressed, and maybe could I
think about trying out new styles of clothes, etc? That could be done in a nice way, which
wouldn't necessarily make me feel bad. But to come to the conclusions that she needs to
split with her partner of 18 years, who has cared for her, looked after her, and is a good
father to our child, just because she SUDDENLY doesn't like the way I dress, is just
absurd to me. I can't understand where this is coming from.
She has also started to "reject" anything about our past relationship. She has thrown away
old photos showing us together in the early days. When we got engaged, she made a cross-stitch
picture and wrote (stitched) "To Matt, with love on our engagement". This was framed and
put on our wall. She has recently said she wants to get rid of it - maybe keep the picture
but remove the writing from it, re-frame it and give it to our daughter. We recently moved
house, and she now doesn't want to put up any of the framed photos (eg. our wedding photo)
that have us both together. It's as if she want to eradicate any signs of us being a couple.
She seems to have even gone off the idea of marriage as a concept. She "liked" some articles
on Facebook (that other people had written) that dismissed the notion that men and women can
stay together for more than a few years.
She has started "hating" things that she used to like. She discovered tango a few years
ago, and used to absolutely love going to local events. Now she has lost all interest in
it, for two reasons. Firstly, she says she has lost all confidence due to the way she looks
(she feels her figure has changed for the worse since giving birth - in fact, I think she
looks amazing and just as good as she ever did. But I cannot convince her of this...).
Secondly, she now describes the tango club she used to go to as "just a lot of old people
who are only there because they have nowhere else to go". These were people who just a
few years earlier, she said she loved having as friends. She said how great it was to have
a group of friends like that (which is something she'd never really had in the past, having
had a difficult time at school (due to bullying)).
She has very few friends (and most of these are long-distance ones that she rarely sees),
so does not have anyone else to give her any "feedback" about how she's changed. The only
other person she talks to is her mother (with whom she is very close). But her mother has
issues of her own (depression), so the fact that she is my wife's main relationship, does not
seem very healthy to me.
I have tried to bring this up with her a few times. I have tried to explain that she has
changed, and have tried to get her to discuss this with me. But I don't really get a good
reaction. She usually just brushes it aside, or she gets angry, or she sometimes
cries and tells me that she's "not doing well at the moment" and is exhausted and stressed
(with her job). I try to ask her what we can do to make the situation better, but these
conversations seem to go nowhere.
My entire relationship with her now could well be summed up by the phrase "walking on egg-
shells". She seems to hate it whenever I express an opinion that differs from hers.
A few days ago we had just eaten her dinner, and she had had a yoghurt. I then felt like
having some cheese on bread, and asked her is she wanted some too. She told me "You don't
have cheese AFTER the dessert!", and when I said "Well, you can if you want to", she looked at
me with such a look of pity and contempt, as if I'd said the most ridiculous thing
I have suggested a couple of times that she might be depressed (since she has a history of
depression), but she is adamant that she is not, and does not like me bringing that up as
an excuse for her behaviour.
I realise that women have a hard time after giving birth, and are exhausted with looking
after a new baby. Of course there are hormone changes women have to put up with too. I'm
sure all of this can change a person. I assumed my wife would gradually change back into the
person she was, but it's been two are a half years now, and although the more difficult
period is over (ie. our daughter is sleeping through the night now, and has been for a year),
and my wife is back at work, her behaviour towards me has not improved.
I have always tried to respect other people's opinions, and to assume that they mean what
they say. If someone tells me I am doing something wrong, I will genuinely look at what I'm
doing and see if they have a point, and if they do, I will try to change. It goes against
my nature to tell someone that there must be a medical problem with them, if they happen
to say something I don't agree with! But my wife's change in attitude towards me has been
so sudden and dramatic that I can't see any objective reason for the things she's saying.
From my point of view, I am only staying with her now because we have a child together,
and leaving her is the last thing I want to do. I want to stay with my wife, and if I could
see an end to her current behaviour, I would certainly stick it out. But at the moment I
cannot see any end to it, and it seems my future is staying in a terrible relationship and
being unhappy for the rest of my life, just for the sake of our daughter. I am seriously
considering leaving now while my daughter is young enough to forget about me.
This email has gone on a bit. I suppose what I really want to know is:
* Has anyone else experienced anything like the above?
* Could giving birth cause changes like I've described, even 2.5 years later?
* What on earth should I do about the situation?
Thanks for any help,