Sunday 16 June 2019

Dear Mary: I have done everything I can but my wife has made my life a misery

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Mary O’Conor

I have been married for 25 years and have four children - two of them are in third level and two in secondary school.

My wife stayed at home to bring up our children, and I worked all the time. My wife is a glamorous woman who is very confident. I would describe her as being very jealous and spiteful and resentful.

Early on in our marriage, my wife started to accuse me of looking at other women when we were out. No matter where I looked, she would always accuse me of looking at the attractive women. This has left me not wanting to go out on social occasions.

We live in a beautiful house although I would not describe it as a home. Everything has to be perfect in the house.

I help a lot at home with the cooking, cleaning and shopping. My wife never appreciates this and constantly criticises me, saying I'm untidy and unorganised. If it's not done her way, then it is not right.

She constantly badmouths and criticises people and is always saying bad things about my family. She considers herself better than everyone else and looks down on people.

She disapproves of most things - children born outside of marriage, couples living together, men working away from home, men going out with friends... She thinks that no man can be trusted and that any affair is caused by men, and the list goes on.

I have examined myself and I don't think I am a bad person. I have tried my best, I have worked hard, helped out at home and I am home every evening. I never go out on my own, no one calls to the house. I wonder why, and can't help feeling how different life could have been had I married someone else.

I have done everything possible to please my wife - lovely house, new cars, foreign holidays, weekends away and yet she treats me like a doormat.

Our life at home is horrible. I feel stressed and feel that my health is suffering as a result.

Our children have witnessed rows that no children should ever have to witness.

I have thought of everything, including taking my own life. I feel my life has been a waste, although I do love my children.

Our love life is non-existent and I fear for the future and growing old in such a relationship.

I don't know what to do.

Mary replies: Some weeks ago, I answered a man who was very unhappy as his wife bullied him, and because so many men have contacted me, some of whom were in a similar situation, I have decided to return to this topic again.

What you describe is no way to live a life, and the fact that you have contemplated suicide shows how bad things are.

You are to be praised for providing a home and education for your children but they have received a very bad template for what married life should be. There appears to be no respect whatsoever shown to you by your wife whereas two people who are just sharing a house with no relationship between them would expect respect from each other.

As always, you have choices. You can seek counselling, you can keep things exactly as they have been for the last number of years, or you can separate.

I don't often advocate leaving a marriage but I feel that in this case you have very little option if you are to survive as a human being with dignity and hope.

Your mental health is so important and it is suffering hugely right now. If you continue as you are, there is every likelihood that you will break down completely so you need to take drastic steps to change your life.

It is extremely unlikely that your wife will change and I doubt that you could forgive everything that has happened even if she did.

I'm guessing that you are in your late 40s or early 50s and there is a lot of life left to live for you.

A good place to start for you would be to visit the website of Amen ( which is a support service for male victims of domestic abuse in Ireland providing crisis intervention, helpline support and face-to-face support to victims. You may not be the victim of physical abuse but you certainly have been mentally abused. Their helpline is 0818 222240. You should also consult your doctor who will treat you in the strictest confidence and get your depression investigated. As always, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day (on 116 123) if you feel like talking to somebody - and you don't have to be suicidal to call them.

A reader in a similar situation recommended a book, Stop Walking on Eggshells, subtitled 'Taking back your life when someone you care about has Borderline Personality Disorder', by Paul T Mason and Randi Kreger.

I haven't had time to read this yet but the reader told me it was an enormous help in understanding what was going on with his wife, although dealing with the problem was another matter.

And you will have to deal with your situation before it is too late.

Seek help now and I wish you all the best in what lies ahead.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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