"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I hope you can give me a logical answer to my wife's behaviour. My wife and I have been married for 25 years now and we have two grown children.
We were both working until three years ago when I had a medical mismanagement that rendered me semi-paralysed. I was semi-comatose earlier on.
I woke up six months ago and sued the hospital and doctor for my condition. The court ruled in my favour and I was awarded RM500,000.
My wife banked in the money to our joint account and then she placed it in a Fixed Deposit account under her name.
She asked me to withdraw my entire EPF savings and let her manage the money - which I declined to do.
She has been getting home just before midnight on a daily basis from Monday to Friday and she said that her work requires her to manage and motivate staff daily.
She has dinner with her staff and goes clubbing with them. She explained that she does this to release stress. She is only with me during the weekends.
As we are financially independent, I asked her to resign, but she refused, insisting that she enjoys her work. What do you think is happening?
- Worried Husband
Dear Worried Husband,
You've been through several big life changes and it's time to reassess. This will need to cover your personal goals, your relationship with your wife and your marriage together.
From your letter, you have disagreed with your wife over your finances, her job and the time you spend together. Your prose also reeks with mistrust and suspicion. Frankly, you sound miserable.
My first thought is that making the adjustment to being semi-paralysed is bound to have an impact on the way you see yourself, on your daily routine, and on your personal goals. I think you need to evaluate your new situation.
How are you feeling about these changes? Are you able to enjoy hobbies and activities that make the most of your financial independence? Or are you sitting about, doing nothing and feeling bored?
At this point, you should be making a life for yourself that you enjoy. Start doing something fun every day. Have a drink with a friend, go to the local park early in the morning to hear the birdsong, and take up a hobby like reading, painting or making music.
Do know that stress and pain are associated with depression? Doctors focussing on physical health sometimes forget to look for this, so it's worth double-checking this isn't affecting you.
Depression isn't simply feeling hopeless: it can cover anger, changes in sleep and other symptoms. If you feel you are rather different from before, get yourself assessed.
Next, you have to consider your relationship with your wife before your hospital accident and after. Were you close before? If you were, you need to find a way back to that happy place.
I can see how the shock may have affected your wife deeply, and caring for you may have exhausted her, in which case, work is a safe, non-emotional relief. In this case, guilt would come into play, too.
Also, I suspect you haven't been exactly easy to be with, either. It is easy to snap and be irritable when you're frightened and in pain, and this may have driven a wedge between the two of you.
If this is your marriage, an open-hearted conversation should get you back on the right path. Give it time, though. Recovery is never instant, and your marriage won't be exactly the same. Small, positive steps is the way to go.
If you were never close, or had drifted apart before this accident, then you can talk together over how you both see your future. You will need to negotiate a mutually agreeable deal. This will not be easy as it will stir up many emotions, some of which are bound to be painful.
If this is your marriage, I suggest you both get your own counsellor and seek professional financial advice, too.
Whatever you two decide to do, be kind to each other. You have both suffered tremendous stress in the last few years, and it's very easy to slip into harsh words and acts.
So, when your conversation is too heated, please do step back and cool down. If you can't avoid fighting, get professional help.Good luck and I hope that you both find happiness in your golden years.