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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am married to a young absolutely beautiful woman and we have wonderful children who are very bright, sociable and good looking. My wife does not work, as I am financially successful, and support her in style – stunning jewelry, clothes and gorgeous sheitels. We have full time help, a beautiful home and go on great vacations.

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People often ask me how I got lucky enough to marry such a beautiful woman (I am, by any measure, average looking). Dr. Respler, what they don’t know is that my wife has a difficult personality. She is quick to anger, very impulsive and makes outrageous demands. We live in an affluent community where there is an expectation of keeping up with all the neighbors and she takes that feeling very far.

What I am writing about today is her use of the word “divorce.” She uses it on a regular basis and has no idea of the effect it has on me. Except that when she brings it up, I cave and give in to her every whim. It seems that she thinks I will pay more attention to her, agree with her, when she loses her temper and threatens to leave.

She does acknowledge later on that she didn’t mean it, yet, I can’t help but wonder how she would feel is I was the one threatening it all the time.

Dr. Respler, how can I trust her not to do this again? And, should I assume that she really wants a divorce? If she doesn’t why does she keep saying she does? I guess what I am asking is, doesn’t she understand that words matter? My parents divorced when I was a child and that trauma has impacted me in a great way. Knowing this you would think my wife would be even more careful with her wording, yet its as if it makes no difference to her.

Do you think you could address this issue in your column? I can’t even begin to describe how anxious I become when she talks about divorce. As I said, I know that I am not as good looking as some others and it makes me nervous when people tell me how “lucky” I am. I am afraid that one day my family will be gone.

Thank you, 
A Reader

 

Dear Reader,

Let’s begin by saying that the word “divorce” seems to be thrown around a great deal today, especially by the younger generation and the rise in divorces in our community is very troubling.

I hear a lot of insecurity in your words and I wonder how much of it comes from your past and how much from your wife. You seem to have everything going for you financially, yet, unfortunately, you feel insecure in your marriage.

You appear to be a devoted husband; however, we are not hearing from her. Why is she threatening divorce? Do you make her feel insecure in some way?

You note that you give her a financially secure life. That is wonderful, yet do you give to her emotionally? Do you make her feel of appreciated? Full-time help is great to have, but they are not raising your children. I am sure there is much your wife does to keep your beautiful home running well and to take care of your wonderful family. Are you working many hours? That may cause your wife to feel like a single mother. It’s hard for us to know.

One of the things we discuss frequently in this column is Gary Chapman’s love languages. There are five: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.

From your letter it appears that you give your wife gifts and money, however, do you give her quality time? What about words of affirmation? It’s something to think about.

You need to learn what it is that she needs to feel good about herself. Don’t assume that she is a superficial person – something drew you together years ago; what was it?

You seem to love your wife and talk about wanting peace and a calm life, but there are always two sides to every story. Please seek appropriate help for this wonderful family.  Hatzlocha!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.