What’s Your Advice? How Much Distance In Relationships Do We Need? [#ReachOutThursday]

Posted: June 2, 2016

Distance in relationships can be self chosen or imposed. A female reader tells us of the distance she maintains from in-laws, while a male reader talks of distance from his wife, in different circumstances. What’s your advice?

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Is maintaining my distance the right decision?

Hi, I am married for 2 years and faced verbal abuse in the first half year of my marriage. Then I decided to put a stop to it.

I started to maintain a distance from my in-laws, which I felt, was the best way to protect myself without creating chaos and disrespecting anyone.

I started to never call them on my own but made sure to talk when my husband called them. Also I reacted at one or 2 situations.

Result: As I wanted, we grew a little apart. So now its just normal hello on phone calls. I can say that I am happy with my present situation where my soul is hurt a little less.

But sometimes in a corner of my heart, I feel the need to have loving in-laws. (Expectation hurts!)

I think of talking to them and of making advances but then I hold myself back. I wonder, what if the same thing happens all over again? I feel guilty that I am hurting someone’s expectations.

I am unsure at this step if I am right or wrong. They get really abusive and try to take full control of me when they feel comfortable.

Can you help me please?

Hello,

I empathize with what you’re feeling. It is only natural to want to feel loved, especially by your own family. However at the same time, it must have been very hurtful when you faced verbal abuse.

I want you to know that you are a strong person who has stood up for herself. And I commend you for that. A marriage is a bond not only between two individuals, but between the families as well, and it demands equal love and respect from all the family members.

The fact that you talk to your in laws every time your husband interacts with them over the phone shows that you genuinely still care for them and would like them to know that they matter. Even if you are doing this for your husband’s sake, it is a very important step from your part to maintain the relationship.

It has been a while now since you have maintained this distance from your in laws to protect yourself against their verbal abuse. And the only time you speak with them is when you husband talks to them. Since you miss them, maybe you can start interacting with them on your own without your husband’s involvement based on your own comfort level. These don’t need to be long calls, but basic courtesy calls. This will help you judge the present situation with your in laws and based on how well this goes you can choose to either continue engaging with them or maintaining your distance the way you have so far.

I wish you all the best, and hope that you always remain a strong woman.

Emotional distance between my wife and me

Hello! You may find this unusual, that a man is asking in for your advice, but I feel I can get a good objective perspective here, plus, maybe other women readers may also have something valuable to share.

My wife and I have been married for 6 years now; I would call it a happy marriage – we have had the usually teething troubles that most marriages do but on the whole, no major issues.

We have a 3-year-old child, and it is after having our daughter that our issues have begun.

I love my daughter, and I do understand that after a child, the mother’s attention is going to be more focused on her. But, this has happened to such an extent that we hardly have anything between us anymore.

I am not only talking about physical intimacy – even otherwise, we hardly talk anymore. My wife stresses out about very small things – she wants everything to be ‘perfect’ for our daughter, and gets angry with me if I suggest that she take a break, or let me do some of the tasks she takes upon herself. It is almost as if she doesn’t want me to do anything, and wants to have the child only for herself.

When I bring up the topic, she gets very defensive and says I am imagining things.

My parents find it amusing – they don’t feel this is a big problem. In any case, they are slightly old-fashioned, and don’t think it is important for the father to be so closely involved at home.

All this is creating a big distance. I feel left out by my wife and from my child also. I know she is a very good person at heart and will never want to hurt me, but somehow, we are not able to communicate on this.

Hello,

Thank you for writing in.

After reading everything you have to say, I must commend you on how involved you are with your family life. It is pleasant to see you wanting to help your wife with everything she is doing.

Being new parents is a difficult phase for most. There is a lot of newness involved, a lot of anticipation and stress for being the best parents to your child. Very few realize that there is no perfect parent but there are real parents.

Here are a few things you can do to help your situation.

Since you understand that your wife stresses out quickly, think of ways in which you can do something for her that will relax her or help her focus her attention on herself for a change. It could be ordering in her favourite food or playing music she enjoys. Through these actions let her know that you care for her.

You have had a happy marriage for 6 years, and that’s terrific. Take pride in it and focus on how you’ll work through this together. In quieter moments when your daughter is asleep or playing, talk to your wife about your feelings. It is important that you focus on how you are feeling, and use a tone that is not defensive and accusative. Help your wife understand what you have been feeling and let her know that you want to be a part of this journey as much as she does.

Through your words I can understand how much you love your wife, and how involved you want to be with your family. Take each day as it comes, and work towards your relationship in a step-by-step manner. Put in the patience it requires and focus on the positive.

If you are feeling the need for support in a relationship, simply enter your details here to schedule a counselling session with Healtheminds.

You can ask a question to be answered too using this form.

Woman chasing a heart image via Shutterstock

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