I Want to Live Happily with My Wife, But She No Longer Talks to Me

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male company employee in my 50s, and I’m struggling with my relationship with my wife, who is in her 40s and works part time. We have three children, from high-school age to working adult.

We have been married for 25 years and constantly fight. A few years ago, my wife stopped talking to me and doesn’t even ask me to go shopping with her anymore. We sleep in separate rooms and rarely have sex.

When I told her that I find it troubling that we no longer have conversations, she said it’s the result of years of resentment. In the past, I got very emotional and told her I wanted a divorce. I also ignored her numerous times.

My wife is oppressive and bossy — something she got from her father — and recently, I have found it really irritating. She once told me, “My father was well-respected at his company, but you’re just a loser.” I’ll never forget that until the day I die.

I don’t think I can follow through with a divorce because of how it would affect our children. The pain of being single again also feels like it would be too much. I don’t think I could find a new partner at my age. What should I do so I can live happily with my wife?

— B, Kyoto Prefecture

Dear Mr. B:

Just because you’re married, it doesn’t mean the two of you will get along. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know how you can magically make someone who dislikes you suddenly like you.

Your wife must have put up with you for a long time. You write a lot of terrible things about her and point out her faults in your letter, but I think you have probably said worse things to her.

I can tell from your letter that you think, “I’m right. I’m allowing you to be married to me.” Now that you’re getting older, you’re probably worried about your future.

Swallow your pride and beg for forgiveness. Keep begging until she forgives you, even if it takes years. It might be too late, but this might be your last chance.

I suggest that you receive counseling on you own at your municipal consultation center and get your behavior under control by listening to an outside opinion. Then you may ask your wife to go to couple’s counseling.

If you can’t do that, one option is to prepare to grow old alone and find a way to enjoy living by yourself.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor