Ask Stavroula: A Change in Wife’s Behavior

Dear Stavroula,

I am 46 years old and married for 13 years. I met my wife at my cousin’s wedding and it was love at first sight for both of us. At first I had some doubts about having a serious relationship with her because she is eleven years younger than me, however, she had a very mature way of thinking and showed me in every way that she was very much in love with me.

We married one year after meeting and our son is now 10 years old. My wife decided without any pressure from me to leave her job and be a stay at home mom. We did not have any problems in our relationship until about six months ago, when her behavior changed noticeably.

She is distant. I often find her concerned or lost in thought. She no longer waits up for me to come home from work to sit together, but she goes to sleep early. When I suggest we do something together, she’s tired and generally avoids being alone with me. At first, I thought she was tired because she’s taking care of our child. She takes him to a lot of activities, helps him with school, and generally she is very busy with him. But again, I cannot explain why she avoids me. I do not know if it is just my imagination. Did she find someone else?

J

Dear J,

You are worried about the change in a woman’s behavior that began six months ago and you are worried that she met someone else.

I think I should give you some clearer examples of what would be happening if she were seeing someone else: she would go out on her own more often; take more care of her appearance; there would be mood swings, alternating between extreme cheerfulness and melancholy. She would probably try to conceal in any way that something is happening in her life. Many times, people who cheat become more affectionate and cheerful with their partner either because they feel remorse or because they want to hide what they’re doing until they decide what to do with their new relationship.

So maybe you should focus your attention elsewhere. Did she have a major event in her life that has saddened her? Is her family facing health issues or problems? Is she tired at home now that the child has reached a certain age and she needs to work again and channel her energy somewhere else? Is she unhappy with your own attitude towards her and avoids telling you because she is afraid how this may affect your marriage?

Many times the change in a partner’s behavior may be temporary and may be due to various factors such as routine, fatigue, or the accumulation of many small daily problems.

In any case, you should talk to her about everything that is worrying you. Go out, just the two of you, without your child, so you can talk calmly and without interruptions.

Tell your wife that you have noticed changes in her behavior that disturb you and trouble you and ask her to talk to you honestly about what you are concerned about. Make sure to make her feel safe talking to you, approach her with love without accusing her or blaming her. Show her how important she is to you and how much you miss being with her.

If after this conversation you continue to feel that something is wrong, I would suggest that you visit a specialist together to rule out the possibility of a more serious issue, such as depression, which often manifests as a state of sadness or withdrawal. People suffering from depression usually lose interest in life and their favorite activities and seek to isolate themselves. Fortunately, this illness is effectively treated, especially if it is diagnosed early.