Dear Thelma: My wife and I can't seem to get along. Should I leave?

Dear Thelma: My wife and I can't seem to get along. Should I leave?
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.


Dear Thelma,

I have been married since 2013, and my wife and I have two boys aged four and one. I run my own company, and she is a housewife. My income from my business is decent, and have some rental income from my real estate portfolio. I give my wife an allowance amounting to RM4,500 a month (S$1,514), which I consider good.

Things between my wife and me are not good. We quarrel almost every day about everything, from the smallest thing to matters related to another person (usually a member of her family). My wife always says bad things about my mum, but most of the time I just keep quiet when she does as she usually does it in front of her mother. And yes, my mother-in-law lives with us.

Our quarrels usually last for days and we don’t talk to each other for all that time apart from the really important stuff. When that happens, I will lock myself in my home office and do my own thing. You could say that I am trying to avoid issues or run away from facing her.

I hate quarrelling but my wife seems to enjoy it. She keeps complaining that she hates talking to me as she says I have an authoritative view about her thoughts and plans or whatever else. But in fact, when she says something she is the one who tends to be authoritative. I admit, I am a person with a temper but she is pretty much the same.

Today, while I was driving, she says, “We are not compatible anymore.” Does she mean she would like it if I was not around? Does she want a divorce?

I love my two sons, but ever since our second son was born, I don’t feel as much love for her anymore. In fact, it’s been awhile since we had any sexual contact – the last time was more than six months ago. I do have the urge but she usually gives all sorts of reasons not to have marital relations.

Recently, I had the chance to be alone doing routine stuff (not on business travelling) while my wife was away for a week in her hometown with her mother. I enjoyed the time alone and that is pretty much how I like it. No quarrels, no sense of entrapment in my own home office, etc.

For your information, all the things I’ve done so far, they are all for her. In my will, all my seven properties, my life insurance, my savings, etc, have been left to her.

But is that it? Should I channel my efforts to ME instead? I keep having these thoughts lately: Will my marriage work? Why does my wife hate me? Should I just get a divorce?

I’m not happy. – Trapped Husband


Dear Trapped

You married five years ago and now you have a full house with a toddler running around, a little baby in a cot, and your wife and her mum looking after them.

Things are said by all parties that really shouldn’t be said at all. So, now you’re thinking you’d like to get back to your peaceful bachelor days.

My dear, parenting is scary and I think you may just be in shock at how radical the adjustment is. I suggest a rethink of your situation is in order.

First, you admit you’ve been hiding in the office and using silence as a weapon in the quarrels with your wife. This is not a useful strategy. You’re a grown man with a family, so stop running away and sulking. Deal with this honestly and properly.

Second, while it’s nice that you have a business and money, it does not mean you get a pass on responsibility. You have to do your share of the adulting in your home and in your relationship.

Third, your marital relationship isn’t in good shape. Frankly, I’m not surprised. Very few parents of young kids have a vibrant sex life.

Do either of you get up in the middle of the night to tend to the baby? Do the kids have their own room or do they sleep with you? If the answer to either question is yes, your wife may simply be too worn out to play the sexy seductress.

It’s significant that your wife went away for a few days, and you found the silence blissful. I’m thinking your wife probably feels exactly the same.

Now, let me tell you a secret: money is great for securing basic needs like a roof over your head and food. However, it doesn’t do much for happiness.

What makes marriages happy is the sense that you are there for each other.

My advice to you is this: stop using distance and engage. Come out from your office, roll up your sleeves and get involved with looking after those two sons. Live life to the fullest, be at your wife’s side, and act like a life partner. Tackle the quarrelling when you’re both on the same page again. Do it nicely, and remember that everyone is stressed.

A change in attitude will be messy and tiring, but the joys of being a hands-on parent will be ample compensation. Also, you’ll be close to your wife again before you know it.

And if by chance you find yourself pleading exhaustion, do remember to give her a big hug and to have a giggle about it together.

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