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The Sunday Age

Sunday February 20, 2011

maureen Matthews

Q I'm eight years into my second marriage. He's from a different ethnic background and had a very sheltered upbringing, living with his parents until we married (aged 35). He's emotionally closed and has admitted to wishing he'd lived alone before marrying, feeling resentful about "giving" of himself to others. He just seems to want to be left alone. No matter how much space I give him he's still unhappy. He liked the idea of marriage, but doesn't seem to like committing, emotionally, to another person. I'm suffering the consequences of his oppressed upbringing. Maybe I should leave him.A When people from very different backgrounds marry, their love can smooth over differences in lifestyle, attitudes and beliefs. But as the relationship settles down, these differences can become apparent and strain the relationship. In some cultures it is expected that the children will live with their parents until they marry. In some cases the main reason the children do marry is to leave home. Often these marriages do not last, and the person goes on to grow up and develop as an adult individual.Even when a couple share similar backgrounds, it is usually a good idea for both partners to have experienced some time living as individuals before living together. It is a time to learn to be self-sufficient, to have the freedom to do your own thing and to learn about the mechanics of running a household.If you both want this relationship to last you would probably benefit from talking to a relationship counsellor. You will find plenty of information about Relationships Australia at A qualified counsellor will be able to facilitate your negotiations as you both try to understand what it is that you want from life and marriage. It is possible that you and he might have to spend some time apart. Perhaps he could go away on an extended trip, either for work or pleasure. He could accept an overseas position for a while, walk the Kokoda Track, do a residential study course - something that he will find challenging and that will throw him back on to his own resources.Alternately, you might have to resign yourself to living a parallel life for a while, living more like flatmates, and doing different things much of the time. Hopefully he will get his fill of solo living and will be ready to work on your relationship.Ultimately only he can deal with any issues that arise from his upbringing. He might be reluctant to talk to a third person about his feelings, but bottling them up will only keep him stuck where he is. You are not going to be able to tolerate this forever, and it might well result in you ending your marriage.

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