My wife has changed since she left her job: Ask Ellie

My wife of ten years has changed completely. We’re both 37.

She had a good-income job where she had many friends. She was also involved in side-interests for making money, e.g. doing wedding photos for a couple of years, then tutoring.

I’m a male nurse. The salary level isn’t that high. I also lead a choir after-hours.

A few years ago, my wife took a modest buyout and left her job.

She said the bosses had changed, many of her co-worker friends left and business had decreased.

She hasn’t had a job since. She’s become obsessed with yoga and attends group classes. That’s it: no more part-time gigs, little house care, shopping for food only as needed.

We have one daughter whom I drive to school and take to sports activities. My wife is only committed to taking her to kids’ yoga.

I feel overwhelmed by our expenses since she can no longer contribute as much as before (from her buyout fund and savings, which are depleting).

She’s a stubborn, determined woman and doesn’t take easily to being questioned about her decisions.

I love her and don’t want to break up our family.

What do you advise?

A Changed Wife

Everyone changes, including you. But when the changes seem unusual, and strain others in the family, there comes a time when discussion about it is crucial.

Not blame, not a fight, just an attempt to understand.

I can’t guess at what so dramatically altered your wife’s pattern — though clearly leaving her job was a major factor — but to me, she sounds angry.

That loss of a workplace among friends may have unsettled her sense of self. And her old drive to find other part-time work interests, was no longer there.

She may be depressed, too . . . signalled by less interest in managing the house and shopping for food.



Ask your wife what she wants to do with her future. For example, she could start her own yoga classes as a business, Ellie says.


© Provided by Toronto Star
Ask your wife what she wants to do with her future. For example, she could start her own yoga classes as a business, Ellie says.

Yoga is how she keeps her mood calm and feels physically healthy.

I believe counselling could help her see other possibilities beyond yoga to regain the ambition, satisfaction and sense of self-esteem she had in the past.

But it’d be a mistake for you to suggest it. She has to want it for herself.

Yes, I’m sounding soft on a wife who’s seemingly dropped her part in “partnering.”

But you’ve led that approach by being wary of her stubbornness and wanting not to push her away (the fact that you believe that can happen points to her anger).

Ask her what she’d like for the future — start her own yoga classes as a business, for example.

If she’s reluctant to talk, suggest counselling together, to help each other relate better in this new phase.

If she’s not more open in counselling, suggest you both have separate sessions.

I understand that your resources are limited, but a community agency offering short-term counselling with affordable fees can be helpful.

Give it a try. Doing nothing is only widening the gap between you two.

Readers’ Commentary The topic of difficult mother-daughter relationships keeps drawing responses (Oct. 26):

Reader #1: “From the daughter’s side of the story, my mom lies, manipulates and plays the victim in every situation.

“You never know if she’s making up her stories to stir trouble so she can sit back and watch it happen.

“I called her out today for repeatedly changing a story in the same conversation while gossiping about her co-worker.

“So now, I don’t want to hear it. She doesn’t accept that her behaviour’s harmful and thoughtless. I don’t need her bringing me down.”

Tip of the day

When a partner’s behaviour negatively affects immediate family, it’s crucial to discover the cause.

Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Email ellie@thestar.ca or visit her website, ellieadvice.com. Follow @ellieadvice.

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