After 30 + yrs of marriage, I find that I can’t tolerate my wife’s lack of intellect and I’m wondering if this could be reason for divorce. When we were busy with little kids etc. it didn’t interfere but in a house full of adults, I feel the whole environment going the opposite of my goals in life, and she doesn’t have the capacity to even understand the issue. It makes no difference to her if the children take jobs, schooling, or do nothing, all she does is argue with me whenever I try to introduce any structure or direction. She has no capability to understand, as this is the environment she grew up in- no planning, structure, goals, just sit around and argue with everybody. I read your emails about Imago therapy, please show me how it can help when there’s a basic disparity as described.
Getting used to Empty Nest Syndrome and What to do When You’re Tired of Your Spouse and Would Rather Just End the Relationship and Divorce.
Thank you for your question. Yes, it is common that once the kids are out of the house, you may start to notice behaviors that you were too busy with previously to get stuck on. I don’t think this is a reason to end the relationship. I think it is an opportunity to work on the relationship.
While you can’t expect your wife to become as intellectual as you at this point in her life, you can both learn how to talk to each other in a way where you both can really hear each other and respect each others’ differences. I think it is important that she understands your feelings and your goals. Of course, this discussion needs to be held in a safe environment.
The Imago dialogue is a great process that can help you process these issues together. You can try it on your own but if it doesn’t work, it may help to have a professional facilitate it. I believe she could learn to appreciate your viewpoint. She may be triggered by your attempts to introduce structure. This makes it difficult to hear what you are saying without reacting. The dialogue process can help her control her reactivity so she can hear your ideas.
Similarly, you may want to reflect on why this bothers you so much. The issues that trigger us in relationships often tell us something about ourselves. Often times one of us overcompensates so we are doing “double duty” in the relationship.
One of us becomes the thinking spouse, the other the feeling, etc… She may have learned growing up that thinking is frowned upon and she may have cut off that part of herself. You have the ability to help her reclaim that lost or disowned part of herself but you may enabling her not to think. I would recommend reading Getting the Love You Want where they discuss the lost, disowned selves, etc… or participate in a private 2 Day marriage therapy intensive where you will have the opportunity to delve into this in a deeper way and just how it shows up in your own marriage. You can find more information about these intensive marriage counseling sessions on this page.
With best wishes for your relationship success,
Shlomo and Rivka