Are you waiting for a replacement wife to rescue you from your marriage?
Recently, a client told me that the reason he'd decided not to leave his wife was 'I havenít met anyone else who Iíll want a relationship with'.
Itís not uncommon for men to wait until they've found a new partner before they leave their current one. In my experience, itís more likely for men to do this than for women. So I'm addressing this column to men. However, whatever your gender, if you are waiting for someone else to come along before you leave your current relationship, read on. Iím not sugar coating this one, so it might make for uncomfortable reading.
Itís possible that the thought won't sit in your mind as starkly as it did in the mind of my client. But his honesty voiced something that many people only half acknowledge or donít acknowledge at all. But itís there Ė in their waiting, in their (lack of) interaction with their spouse, in their irritation and their hard-to-pin-down discontent. Iíve heard it dressed up as ĎBut I feel like Iíve been single for the last few years, so I want a relationship.í Or ĎIt just happened.í (It being that heís moved straight out of a marital home into a new home with someone else.) It didnít just happen. He made a choice.
Whether you are waiting or have already met a new girlfriend, this approach is dangerous Ė for you. By taking the route of being rescued you neatly avoid facing yourself.
Yes, a fear of being alone might be a significant reason for this behaviour. I keep being told that men find it harder to cope alone than women. I donít know about that, but I do know that the thought of being alone is terrifying. Letís not pretend otherwise. And I know that the day you move out of a marital home into an Ďaloneí living space is one of loneliest experiences youíre likely to have. I told you I wouldnít sugar coat it.
But from the many conversations Iíve had with men on this subject, thereís something else Ė something harder to admit to. For many of you, what you are really avoiding is having to cook and clean for yourself. You may well squirm in embarrassment but thatís the truth. In a marriage, even if both partners share the housework in principle, itís highly likely that the woman will take more responsibility for housework.
If this is what you are avoiding, itís not a relationship that you are longing for; and you certainly didnít Ďjust happení to move in with someone new. Youíre looking for a replacement wife. Someone to look after your domestic space Ė just as your wife did.
So the question becomes, ĎIs that a good enough reason to go into another committed relationship?í Iíll leave you to answer that.
Thereís a more significant question from my point of view, though. I work with individuals, not couples, because I think that the real work of relationship can only be fully addressed on an individual level. Each personís experience is their own; not theirs and their partnerís. So the question is, ĎWhy are you avoiding facing yourself?í That question opens a can of worms. Thatís why people avoid going there. A host of attendant questions present themselves, such as ĎIf you canít spend time facing yourself, why on earth would anyone else want to?í
The thing is that the ĎYouí you are avoiding doesnít go away. Heís with you all the time and while a replacement wife might be able to rescue you from household chores, she wonít be able to rescue you from yourself. Listen to that hard-to-pin-down discontent. Thatís your ĎYouí talking.
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