Direct Answers - Column for the week of August 25, 2003
My wife and I married eight years ago. One month into our marriage she was diagnosed with a non-life threatening form of muscular dystrophy. Over the years she has grown more and more dependent on me.
She no longer has the strength to carry a child, and it has become apparent we will never have children of our own. She still works full-time. I must take care of all the household functions like cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Over time I've come to look on her less as my wife and more as my responsibility.
I don't love her anymore the way a husband loves a wife. Last January I asked her for a divorce, but I continue to live in the same house because she has no one else to help her in and out of bed, and no one else to take care of her.
I agreed to see a counselor and discuss my feelings. After meeting with us individually the counselor said we have two different objectives. I want a divorce, and she wants to find ways to "fix" our marriage. We stopped seeing the counselor after that because I felt pushed toward her objective.
I don't know where to go from here. She tells my family and friends I am going through a mid-life crisis, but I'm only 31. The simple truth is I want children. She claims she can still do this though her disease makes it next to impossible. I also want a partner not a dependent.
How can I help her understand this? I try talking to her, but it always degenerates into an argument with her crying and telling me how much she loves me. I've avoided moving out because I feel guilty for leaving her with no one to help her. I need to know how to end this so I can get on with my life.
Reed, one of Shakespeare's most famous lines is "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds."
There are people who love one another so much that no matter what life throws at
them, leaving the other would never cross their mind. Another man in your position might count himself lucky his wife did not have a form of the disease which would end her life.
That is not what you are saying. You are saying you want a new life and a new wife. You want out because she has muscular dystrophy, and that is all there is to it. She is the same person she always was, but now you feel she is a serious inconvenience.
We can hear readers wanting us to shame you and ask how you would like it if the tables were turned. Then, they would say, you would understand how she feels and what you are doing to her.
But that is not enough to make you stay. Guilt will not keep two people together. It's not strong enough. For someone to withstand what is difficult, there has to be something there that allows them to withstand it.
Your wife faces a harsh reality. There will be people in her life who accept her for who she is and what she can do, and those who see a disability and what she can't do. But she must face that reality.
On a daily basis you show your wife you don't love her and want a different woman. How healthy can that be for her?
The main question to answer before you divorce is who will be there to give her the care and support she needs after you have gone.
Before you marry again, you need to ask yourself another question. If the worst thing happened to this woman, would I remain by her side? That is the love Shakespeare wrote about, the love which does not alter when it alteration finds.
Wayne & Tamara
About the Author
Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com.
Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.