Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Our distraught Mexican friend

One of the nice things about my recent business trip to New York was that boyfriend P introduced me to some of his friends who live there, and whom I hadn't met before. In particular, he introduced me to a young Mexican friend of his called N, who had recently discovered that her husband wants a divorce. We met up with her early one evening in a quiet bar in downtown Manhattan, and immediately she starts talking about her problems.

"We're both in our mid 20's GB," N explains to me. "We fell in love quickly so it was only a year after we first met that we got married. That was two years ago now. When he told me recently that he wanted a divorce it was like such a COMPLETE shock because everything had been perfect. I really LOVE him so much GB and I've got no idea what to do about it. I want him back so BADLY, I miss his touch, his smell, his body ..."

Looking at this beautiful eloquent young woman, I find it hard to believe that any sane straight guy would ever contemplate leaving her.

"I've totally been the perfect wife to him GB, I really have, and he used to say so too, like he used tell me that he'd never NEVER leave me. What on earth went wrong GB? Yesterday I was looking at all the nice things that he'd written to me in the past, and now he's saying the exact opposite. I just don't understand."

As I listen to the poor woman, I slowly realise that I've never met anyone who's been jilted so badly. Her extreme anguish is clearly completely genuine.

"So did he just suddenly ask for a divorce out of the blue?" I ask, feeling slightly confused.

"Everything had been completely perfect, it really had, but we started arguing a bit about 6 weeks ago."

"Yes," confirms boyfriend P, "we all thought that they were the perfect couple, so this has been a big shock for all of us."

"He suddenly started saying how he needed his own space. But originally he always wanted us to totally do everything together. When we first started arguing I suggested counselling but he rejected the idea, although now that he's decided that he wants a divorce he has agreed to go to counselling sessions with me."

"Have you got any advice for N?" asks boyfriend P, no doubt thinking that I've got a small amount of experience with relationship issues through my Dear GB postings.

"I'm not sure," I answer slowly, shaking my head, "but I'll give it some thought. I'm trying to imagine what's going through his mind that would make him act this way. Do you think there's another woman?"

"I did ask, and he says no," replies N assertively, "and in fact I do believe him. I'm sure he'd have said if there was, and anyway I'd just know."

A couple of days later we meet up with N again and we naturally continue talking about her relationship crisis. Having thought about her situation now, I've got a couple of questions for her.

"The two of you did get married quite young," I say, "so I've been wondering whether he's got any young free and single male friends that he might be jealous of? Perhaps he feels that he's missing out on his youth?"

"He doesn't have any friends like that," replies N, "but there are some 'friends' of his who are haters :-(. I know that they've been reinforcing any negative thoughts that he's been having about his marriage, because like one of the first things that he told me was that he'd been discussing everything with them. None of them are married, and they don't have any meaningful lives themselves so they've been jealous of us. This is their chance to wreck our marriage. Oh GB, it's so TOTALLY UNFAIR!"

None of her agony seems to have dissipated since we last saw her.

"Well, N," I say thoughtfully, "I think the only thing you can do is to listen to what he's been saying and give him his own space for a while. How often do you talk to him at the moment?"

"I still phone him, and although I try to talk to him in a matter-of fact way, I usually end up telling him how much I LOVE him, and that I TOTALLY miss him, I just can't help it."

"Hmmm, I don't think that's good at all. Given that he's told you that he needs his own space at the moment, every time you say those things I think you're driving him further and further away from you. He's feeling suffocated by your love for him. Do you think you could avoid having any contact at all with him for a few weeks?"

N thinks about this and nods her head.

"Unless he changes his mind," she says slowly, "I guess I've got to get used to not having him in my life anyway :-(. I do see what you mean GB."

"Good. It may well turn out that even with some space he'll still end up wanting a divorce, but from what I've heard I reckon that your marriage is certainly doomed if you don't leave him alone for a while. You need to give him time to realise what he'll be throwing away, without any pressure from your side."

I don't know if she'll actually be able to manage to avoid contact with him though. They've had a couple of counselling sessions together, so I've told her that she should postpone the remaining ones, but I'm not sure whether she's going to do that. In her distraught state, although she's able to reason logically that she shouldn't tell him how much she loves him at the moment, and that it's a good idea to avoid all contact, in practice she always seems to fall back on her emotions when faced with any real situation which involves her husband.

Do any readers have any other ideas on her situation? And if the worst comes to the worst and she ends up getting divorced, does anyone have any thoughts on the best way for her to put her life back together again?


headbang8 said...

Good advice to the young lady, GB.

When we're deeply in love, we can, indeed, smother the other person without knowing it.

The greatest gift we can give to those who love us is, ironically, never to need them. I am a better lover and partner because I'm a strong, independent adult. (To the extent that I have achieved that state, of course!)

That way, you can concentrate on how you enrich each other's lives, rather than how you need them to make up for a weakness.

You can BOTH lend strength, and lean on the other when you need to. It becomes a relationship of equals rather than two loose halves.

If Ms. N and Mr. N got married as young as you imply they did, then she owes it to herself to learn how to stand alone, as an individual. Perhaps Mr. N. did her no favours by whisking her off her feet before she could learn some life-lessons, and lessons about her own character.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this appears to be a case of two people tying the knot well before it was the proper time to do so.

There's a talk radio show host based out of Los Angeles who I've listened for many years give advice on this subject. One of the rules he lays down is anybody under the age of 25 shouldn't get married. He doesn't believe men should get married at all--there's absolutely no benefit in it for them whatsoever.

I think many women (and probably many gay men, too) fall for the illusion that if you can bait a guy into getting married, you've nailed him down and have gotten him for good. In reality, it doesn't work that way. Perhaps the husband of N has finally had it with carrying the weight of the "ball and chain" of marriage around with him. Was N his first love? Did he have time to sow his wild oats before they married? Sounds like not. If that's the case, the boy may simply be feeling more and more regret not having done so.

I agree with your advice, GB. If there's any hope of saving the marriage, N needs to back off. She's got to give him plenty of breathing room without the "I love yous" and the "I really miss yous". As trite as it may be, the old saying "If you love something, set it free..." saying comes to mind. If he's given that breathing space, perhaps her absence will help him realize what he's missing without her. Perhaps not.. he may realize it was simply one, big mistake.

Going forward, hope N will be able to have learned something from this--marriage should never be about sinking your claws into someone. It never does any good to use it as a means to lock someone in. I'm not blaming N for this--sounds like they mutually decided on the choice to get married. Why rush it? If it's really meant to be, that person will stick around without the feeling of being trapped, and may very well work out in the long run because of it.

Sir Wobin said...

6 weeks is a very short period in one's life. To make sweeping changes like a divorce after a 6 week rough patch seems unlikely. Perhaps they are trying to live the American Dream: success! Success means to have a picture perfect life, a loving partner with whom you never argue, a great job with promotion prospects etc. Things aren't picture perfect all the time but that's not how N paints the picture. I'm inclined to suggest that they're keeping up appreances with each other.

If they've been forcing an artificial sweetness in their private lives and their interaction with each other, doing everything together and loving it all the time, then they've been deceitful. People are never happy all the time and they may need to develop the strength and courage to just be themselves around each other and learn to deal with the variety of moods in their partnet that any sane/normal person will have.

If this is the case (I can't tell from the post) counselling is a great way to do that. Sit and discussing one's own and one's partner's feelings and discovering what they really mean when they say a particular thing.

2 years is a great start and about time they hit a bump in the road. If they give up now, they'll just hit a similar bump in the road at some point in the future with someone else. Encourage them to try to fix it now. They may go through the counselling and still decide that to split is for the best but they will have a much better picture of why to split.

Constant communication is vital to any healthy relationship. Learn how to talk to your partner and understand what they mean.

Anonymous said...

Or could he be a closet gay trying desperately to make himself straight and then giving up.....