Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: My wife gets clingy when I leave for work

It’s getting so there are only a few days that things are OK. It seems that my job is the problem, but I can’t do anything else, so what can we do to make things better?

Share

Dear Virginia,

 

I’ve been married for two years and we have a small baby. But I’m a cameraman and have to be away quite a lot. The problem is that every time I leave to do a job, my wife gets extremely clingy and upset and yet every time I return she is moody and angry. It’s getting so there are only a few days in the middle of my return that things are OK any more. It’s as if we can’t stop rowing the rest of the time. It seems that my job is the problem, but I can’t do anything else, so what can we do to make things better?

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Simon

Virginia says...

There are so many couples who feel vaguely dissatisfied with everything in their relationship but can’t put their finger on what’s exactly wrong, but you’re lucky. You've got an identifiable problem that follows a regular pattern. That’s a great start. Another plus is that there’s a moment in these cycles when everything goes perfectly OK. And that’s the time to discuss what’s going on.

Now I suspect that your wife, when she was very young, felt abandoned by one of her parents. Oh, I know it all sounds so glib, but it’s astonishing how these childhood hurts come back to haunt you. You only have to experience something in your adult life that reminds you of the childhood pain, and you can go straight back to being a child again. Irrational. Hurt. Tearful. Angry. So your wife only has to think of your going away and it’s like pressing a button – she gets miserable, feels you’re being cruel, and, when you return, she takes it out on you.

I’m sure that Relate counselling would help you both enormously, but before going down that route, why don’t you try this? A couple of weeks before you leave, and your wife gets upset, why don’t you get upset, instead? You don’t have to feel it really. But pretend. Constantly refer to how anxious you are that you’re going away, say that you’re terrified she won’t be able to cope or will run off with another man. Ask her if she thinks you should cancel the job. Say you don’t know what’s come over you, but suddenly you’ve lost your nerve and can’t deal with these absences.

I’m pretty sure that, faced with this reaction from you, your wife’s attitude will change. She’ll be pushed into a nurturing mode. For her, it may turn out to be enough that someone is upset at the parting. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s you or her.

While you’re away, bombard her with anxious texts and phone calls. Say how you’re longing to get back and how much you miss her. Ask her if she can meet you at the airport. 

This all may be completely contrary to how you think you feel, but please, just give it a try. Because I suspect that there is a bit of you that really does feel distressed at these partings, but somehow you’re subconsciously getting your wife to bear all the pain and emotion. She becomes the loopy one. You’re the sane one. Try sharing the loopiness for once. Then she can share the sanity.

Virginia Ironside’s new book is No! I Don’t need Reading Glasses! (Quercus £14.99)

Readers say...

Share her burden

Your wife’s recent transition to motherhood is enormous and one which no woman can wholly be prepared for. The chances are that she is experiencing a range of profound emotions and swinging from joy to despair and back again. All this and the sheer exhaustion of looking after a newborn, especially as she is doing this mainly on her own. No wonder she behaves in the way she does.

Take some time out from work. Find out how you can support her during the times that you are away. It may be, for example, that having help with the baby two or three nights a week will give her a decent night’s sleep. I am sure there are many other ways you can help. But talk to her, listen to her. You are in this together.

Elisabeth Storrs, York

The job’s got to go

Clingy and upset? Moody and angry? She is one unhappy woman. If you love her and your child, change that job. It is a brave step, I know, and hard to think of doing something completely different, but you really have to do it if you do not want to lose the two people you love more than anything. 

Helen Bobuk, by email

Next week’s dilemma

Dear Virginia,

I’m 30 and have been trying to get pregnant for five years now with no luck. We’ve done everything, and we’ve even been treated privately  – and it’s getting expensive. My partner thinks we should just forget about it and if something happens then fine, and if nothing does, fine. But I keep thinking it would be worth having one last attempt, even though we would have to get a second mortgage. All my friends are having children and I long for a baby. I know you’ve written about infertility. What would you advise?

Yours sincerely,

Sonia

What would you advise Sonia to do?

Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose  advice is quoted or whose dilemma is published  will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss