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Can't Make Someone Love You

Question:

I have been married 7 years and have a four year old girl, me and my wife have been bickering and arguing most of the 7 years, she has told me that she never was sure about me and was unhappy before we got married, but I know there have been times where she really wants to be with me, she is very sensitive and nervous and has fits of anger, one time she opened up to me and said she gets this overwhelming feelings and said she cant help it and asked me who can she see to help the problem, I told her a counselor which she never did. she always is wanting new things to make her happy and now she has told me she realizes that getting new things cant permanently make her happy and that she is just an unhappy person and at this point she has move out and has said she needs to make her self happy and doesn’t have any feeling for me, she says she likes me as a friend, also if it helps she had a problem with bulimia when she was 17-22 I don’t know how to help her or what’s wrong, we both come from good whole families. I know all she wants is a happy family. I’m not the best to live with and can be demanding but am willing to change. at this time she said she cant get back with me and said I cant make her feel something she doesn’t please help.

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

To paraphrase the singer Bonnie Raitt, You can’t make someone love you if they don’t. It would seem to me that what you can do is to be consistent and frequent in your communications back to your errant wife that 1) you love her and want her to come home 2) you will work on making things better 3) that you will see a therapist together (a marriage counselor) and that you’ll make the arrangements so that she doesn’t have to worry about this. Perhaps send her some flowers to show you care. Aside from this sort of thing, you cannot compel her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. It is quite likely that your wife has some issues that would be profitably explored with a therapist. People who have recovered from eating disorders frequently do have issues of perfectionism, deep seated feelings of inadequacy, depression, etc. Not always, but it is not rare either. My thinking is that insisting that she sees a therapist now might further push her away. You can tell her that this would be a good idea, and if she is open to it, you can make the arrangements for her, but probably it is not a good idea to push her into it. If you can get her into marriage counseling with you, perhaps that therapist would recognize any issues with your wife that might be present and will recommend individual therapy him/herself. It would likely seem like a better idea from a therapist’s mouth than from yours. Prepare yourself for becoming a single parent. You may not have any choice, and you may not want to live with your wife on the terms she will end up offering you (e.g., separated, or constantly fighting with you). You have a right to a quality of life and so does your daughter. These are my thoughts anyway. I hope they are useful to you. – Anne

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