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Q Over the last year my wife has become withdrawn. She does not appear to want to be with me, and we have not been intimate more than a few times. How can I help us get back on track?

A It depends. Ask your wife to see your family doctor to rule out certain health conditions such as depression or a hormone imbalance that could explain her withdrawal from the relationship. 

If she is not willing to see your family doctor, initiate some frank discussions with her about your marriage. Ask, why the change? Did something happen? Are you angry, and, if so, why? Is there someone else? Resolve to listen and learn rather than be defensive. But also be clear that you are not prepared to continue to make guesses about what might be wrong. Tell her your wish that the two of you resolve the difficulties between you, whatever the cause. Ask if she thinks marriage counseling might help.

If your wife stonewalls all your efforts for change, be proactive by going for counseling yourself. Use individual counseling to get to know yourself better rather than focusing on your wife as the problem. Know that it always takes two people to resolve a marriage issue, even though it takes only one person to break a relationship. You can’t do it by yourself.

Be prepared for a crisis—a positive development that gives an opportunity for the two of you to move on to something different and potentially better than the year-long marital dysfunction.  Pray much during this painful time of upheaval and trust in God’s love for both of you and the Holy Spirit’s help.

About the Author

Judy Cook is a family therapist and a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.