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Dear Virginia: My clingy wife hates me working


Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

I've been married for two years and we have a small baby. But I'm a cameraman and have to be away quite a lot. The problem is that every time I leave to do a job, my wife gets extremely clingy and upset and yet every time I return she is moody and angry.

It's getting so there are only a few days in the middle of my return that things are okay any more. It's as if we can't stop rowing the rest of the time. It seems that my job is the problem, but I can't do anything else, so what can we do to make things better?

Yours sincerely, Simon

THERE are so many couples who feel vaguely dissatisfied with everything in their relationship but can't put their finger on what's exactly wrong, but you're lucky. You've got an identifiable problem that follows a regular pattern. That's a great start. Another plus is that there's a moment in these cycles when everything goes perfectly OK. And that's the time to discuss what's going on.

Now I suspect that your wife, when she was very young, felt abandoned by one of her parents. Oh, I know it all sounds so glib, but it's astonishing how these childhood hurts come back to haunt you. You only have to experience something in your adult life that reminds you of the childhood pain, and you can go straight back to being a child again. Irrational. Hurt. Tearful. Angry. So your wife only has to think of your going away and it's like pressing a button -- she gets miserable, feels you're being cruel, and, when you return, she takes it out on you.

I'm sure that Relate counselling would help, but before going down that route, why don't you try this? A couple of weeks before you leave, why don't you get upset, instead? You don't have to feel it really. But pretend. Constantly refer to how anxious you are that you're going away, say that you're terrified she won't be able to cope or will run off with another man.

Ask her if she thinks you should cancel the job. Say you don't know what's come over you, but suddenly you can't deal with these absences.

I'm pretty sure that, faced with this reaction from you, your wife's attitude will change. She'll be pushed into a nurturing mode. For her, it may turn out to be enough that someone is upset at the parting. And it doesn't really matter whether it's you or her.

While you're away, bombard her with anxious texts and phone calls. Say how you're longing to get back and how much you miss her.

This all may be completely contrary to how you think you feel, but please, just give it a try. Because I suspect that there is a bit of you that really does feel distressed at these partings, but somehow you're subconsciously getting your wife to bear all the pain and emotion. She becomes the loopy one. You're the sane one. Try sharing the loopiness for once. Then she can share the sanity.

Original source Evening Herald