I request advice from adoptees, or spouses of adoptees in this forum who might have a similar situation. My wife and I have Ben married for 13 years and have two kids. My wife, who was adopted at about the age of two, suffers from depression as well as some immune system physical ailments that make her very tired. Often this becomes anger or rage which she directs at me or put children. She has even been violent to me in the past but I have not ever been violent back since I believe it is wrong to hit a woman. Since she started on medication however we have not had that problem, thankfully.
She has been to years and thousands of dollars of counselling and I feel I have been very patient an loving to her. She regularly oscillates between pushing me away and blaming me for being distant. Sometimes I need to be emotionally distant to protect myself from unpredictable mood swings. I have read numerous books on adoption, depression, an relationships, and put the advice into practice. At my wife’s insistence I have gone for counselling myself numerous times because I am not good enough. I make strong efforts to communicate with her frequently and arrange time for us to be together.
I have an intense career, and whatever time is left is dedicated to helping her and my kids. I feel I give it 150%. However, pretty much every month or two she has an emotional breakdown, blames me for the lack of closeness in our marriage, and says she doesn’t enjoy being married to me, or doesn’t want to be married to me, but will stick it out for the kids. Late last year I was pretty sure it was the end of our remarriage. We have no physical relationship.
Part of me feels that my mission in life is to help her. I know that adoptees carry a lot of pain and suffer from very low esteem. I know I cannot know her experience fully, and she says there are things she cannot tell me. I like being loving and kind to her in fact, and don’t expect a lot for myself.
I am currently reading Jenny Wills book about adoption, and can see a lot of parallels with my wife. This is partly reassuring to me since it means my wife is having the same response that others have, and she is not psychotic (even if it feels that way sometimes). But it doesn’t change the fact that she continues to struggle deeply.
I am running out of ideas on how to help her. Perhaps the readers of this forum, either spouses of adoptees or adoptees themselves, can offer some advice on how I can be more supportive to my wife, and maybe build more emotional closeness?
Hi Todd,
It is very nice of you that you have put in so much effort into trying to help your wife. However, it does not sound like a healthy relationship. It sounds more like you are taking care of another child than a partnership in marriage. It sounds like you need someone to give to you more than take from you. Ultimately, you cannot do the work for her. Your wife is obviously experiencing a lot of pain from being adopted, but only she can learn to accept herself and work on her own healing. And it is a painful process, so even though it might seem like she is doing all the right things by going to therapy, etc, you really have to dig deep in those wounds before real healing comes. And it takes time. The pain does not leave over night, but every step forward is one step closer to healing. You can partner with her and encourage her, but it is not your job to do the work for her.
I hope this helps and that you are able to have life poured back into you as well.