I have thought about sending this letter for quite a while.
y husband and I are not long married. We didn't have the easiest dating relationship and I have probably put up with things that others wouldn't. He is a good, caring man but is quite closed off and does not talk to anyone about feelings or events, and there have been many different things over the years which have tested us as a couple, including illness and fertility issues.H
is best friend took his life through suicide and this has had a significant impact on our relationship. I can see he is heartbroken.
Since then my husband has kept me at arm's length, is quite abrupt and grumpy with me.
I understand he is going through a grieving process and I am trying to support him as best I can, letting him know I am there for him without forcing anything. I am aware however, of the fact that he has always had issues with opening up and communicating. No one else really sees this side to him as he seems to be content and happy in the company of others.
I feel I am taking the brunt of his moods and I have started to notice a shift in my thinking.
My mind is focusing backwards on the various things that caused stress in our relationship over the years. I am unsure as what is the best to do. I am worn out from worrying and stress.
Mary replies: You certainly have had your fair share of testing times in your relationship, but by far the most significant event seems to have been the death of your husband's best friend through suicide.
Suicide causes such a ripple effect when it happens. There is the immediate family whose lives will never be the same again. Then there are the close friends who suffer a shattering blow and this in turn can affect their families, such as is happening in your case.
I don't think we will ever fully understand what goes on in the mind of somebody who takes their own life - it must be incredibly bleak to see suicide as the only way out. But for those left behind there are myriad thoughts and emotions swirling around. Could they have done something to prevent it, did they see any warning signs or were they partly to blame because of something they said or did?
Quite often there is also some guilt because they are still alive while their loved one is dead. People who have been bereaved will say that they feel guilty for being happy or having fun as they suddenly remember what happened. So there is a whole lot going on in your husband's mind and I know that you are aware of this.
However, his inability to communicate his feelings to you is leading you to question events that happened prior to the suicide so much so that it is affecting your relationship.
It is indeed difficult for most men to talk about their feelings.
Women are for the most part able to unload to friends, either in person or on the telephone, with the result that they feel much better for having spoken to somebody. Men on the other hand don't talk to their friends about feelings, as conversation tends to centre on politics, sports or other more general topics.
I read recently about a group of men from 14 counties across Ireland which has started training for an inaugural soccer match against a Cardiff-based team. The thing they all have in common is that they have all lost babies that were either stillborn or died in the womb.
The organisers found that because men don't talk about feelings, if these men are in an environment where they are comfortable, ie. training for a soccer match, they will be able to talk to men who have had similar experiences if they feel the need to, after soccer. It sounds like a great idea and I'm sure it fills a big void.
The fact that there are over 450 Men's Sheds all over Ireland also shows that men really benefit from coming together and either sharing a skill or interest, or simply chatting over a cup of tea.
A good way to begin a conversation with your husband about the effect that his friend's death has had on you is to explain to him that you are feeling very sad and vulnerable. Tell him that you understand what he must be going through, but you also have feelings that need to be taken into consideration, and that right now you feel totally excluded by him.
If you own the feelings of rejection and exclusion then he won't feel criticised by you, which should help. Ask that he sees things from your point of view, tell him you are beginning to look back rather than forward, which is never a good thing in a relationship because you are looking at faults.
You are asking him essentially to be more considerate of your feelings - perhaps he isn't even aware he is treating you badly because he is so caught up in his own loss.
An excellent website for you both to look at is www.suicidesupportandinformation.ie. I hope that in time things become easier for you both.