I Married For Love, But I Don’t Think My Wife Did

Reader’s Question

My marriage is a “love marriage” as opposed to the arranged marriages common in my culture. I love my wife dearly, but I’m getting more angry with her because she always gives priority to her parents. For example, if I ask her to do something with me she will easily say she has no time for me. But if her father asks her to do something like go shopping, she will drop everything else and do so. She has openly told me at least once that she likes her father more than me.

Everyone in my family hates me because I married for love and they don’t accept my marriage as properly arranged. It’s bad enough that I have become estranged from my family, but now I have to contend with my wife’s lack of attention. I’m struggling with my expectations about life and marriage because it seems that nobody really loves me.

I want my wife to view me as more important to her than anyone else in the world. But I don’t think she does. I think her father is the most important person to her and this makes me depressed. Sometimes I think life is worth living except for my wife. But because she’s not showing the kind of love I need from her, I find myself getting angry and shouting at her, which only makes her unhappy.

I want to know if my expectations for this marriage are reasonable. What can I do to influence my wife’s character? I want her to be happy and to be happy with me. Please give me some advice.

Psychologist’s Reply

The nature and purpose of marriage varies considerably from culture to culture. You indicate that you married primarily “for love” but your wife doesn’t seem to feel the same way toward you. You also indicate you see this as an aspect of her “character” and ask what you can do to change it.

Whether or not someone loves another is not a matter of “character.” Besides, you cannot force someone to have the same sentiments toward you that you profess to have for them. Even more, you cannot expect such sentiments to ever develop if you’re expressing anger and outrage about your circumstances and directing those sentiments toward the person you want to be more involved with you.

Your wife apparently feels comfortable and likes to be with her family. It’s likely that she knows them well enough to trust their love for her. On the other hand, you are a relatively new commodity in her life. Just because she is married to you doesn’t mean that she automatically knows how safe she is with you. On top of that, directing anger toward her might easily lead her to question whether she’ll ever be as comfortable with you as she is with those she has known and loved for such a long time.

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It’s also quite possible that your wife did not marry you for the same reasons you married her. And, she is her own person whose “character” you don’t have the power to change. The fact that you’re investing energy trying to make something happen you don’t have power over is likely the reason you’re becoming depressed.

If your wife is ever to feel differently about you, you will likely have to do your best to “earn” the degree of interest and love you seek from her. Even then, there are no guarantees. You will have to accept the fact that you can’t make her feel any particular way toward you.
Remember, it was your choice to marry a woman who might not have the same expectations for your relationship that you do. It takes two people of a similar mind to marry “for love.” If, despite everything, you still really love her and want your marriage to blossom, stop yelling at her, accept things as they are, and work hard to be as attractive a life companion as possible. Drop the other expectations because you don’t have the power to realize them. The rest is not in your hands.

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