Will a Therapist Tell My Wife to Leave Me?

Gwen Randall-Young

Men sometimes blame psychologists when their wives decide to separate or divorce. They feel that it was the therapist who encouraged their partner to give up on the marriage. In fact, the job of a good psychologist is to assist the client in assessing the situation, determining what she wants, exploring options for working things out within the marriage, and finally, as a last resort, supporting her through separation, if that is what she chooses.

Sadly, it often happens that by the time a woman comes for therapy, she has already spent years trying to get her partner to understand her, to see what she needs, and sometimes, simply to treat her as an equal. Sometimes the man refuses counselling, believing that it is the woman who has the problem.

Most women, when they come for counselling, are trying to save their marriages. It is difficult to work with only one half of a partnership, but she wants it to work, so we provide strategies and suggestions for improving communication, and point out ways that she may be contributing to the problem. After all, she can only change herself, not the other person. We also help her to regain self-esteem that she may have lost due to struggles in the relationship.

As she becomes stronger, she often realizes that her partner fears losing control over her and is threatened by her growth. She tries to reach out and tell him that she wants his support, she wants to grow with him, not away from him. Too often she is met with anger and ridicule, as he puts her down and says that he just wants his old wife back, the woman she was. This is when her heart really starts to break, because much as she might love him, she has begun to love herself as well, and cannot pretend to be someone she is not.

Relationships cannot function in healthy ways if one person needs to be the boss, or tries to control another, and most women would be delighted if they perceived their relationships as truly equal partnerships. Instead, the scenario becomes more like the young adult who has to leave home in order to be herself. When she finally tells him she feels no choice but to leave, he insists that he does not want to lose her. But often, sadly, he still is not hearing her, and dismisses her feelings as the result of stress, menopause, or her therapist.

When she realizes that even the fear of losing her does not motivate him to try to honor who she is, she feels the final hopelessness. With an aching heart she walks away, knowing that he may never know how much she loved him, or how much she really wanted it to work. 

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.