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Read Letter

Emotional Bandwidth

Dear Jack, you can’t possibly be thinking of divorce barely two months into marriage. What do you think marriage is!

Marriage is not some fashion item you discard according to whimsical fancies. It’s not a voyeuristic sampling. You seem to imagine marriage a mere paper contract you can just tear up at will, you know…. It doesn’t work that way! You can’t hop in and out of marriage like a man stylistically jumping off a bus to catch another at Oshodi bus terminal.

Divorce is not what you think it is. There are layers of histories and lives involved. Clearly you don’t appreciate the gravity of “I do”. You think you can just say “I undo” and it will go away? You’re just going through the adjustment phase of marriage. It takes time. Two years is short and miraculous. Much depends on the quality of courtship you had, or the adequacy of the courtship period.

When courtship is not thorough the untreated issues will surface in marriage. Essentially, you will resume courtship in marriage, finding out things you should have found out before. And when courtship is too short you’re bound to encounter factual surprises in marriage. You can know about a person in six months but you can’t know the person in six months. You and your wife were brought up under different conventions, under analogous but custom values. How are you going to mesh disparate upbringing, personalities and worldviews in under six months! Because you failed to address pertinent issues in your courtship you did not get to know each other well.

Marriage is a knowledge proposition. The more you know your spouse the higher your chance of marriage success. The less you know your fiancée the more surprises you get in marriage. Adjustment in marriage takes time. The disposition and personalities of parties affects the length of time.

I have looked at the reasons you gave for wanting divorce. They seem so puerile. An older gentleman will probably find some laughable. You complained you and your wife don’t think the same way. How can you! Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. It’s self-evident men and women don’t process things alike, or the difference will just be anatomical. Besides, there are differences in your background. Even kids born in the same home don’t think alike!

Then you said she’s an “attention seeker” and she wants you to be around her always. That’s a good problem you have believe me. Would you rather she doesn’t want you around her? You say you prefer to “reflect on issues, meditate,” or just be on your own. And so there you have the REAL problem in your marriage. When there is a problem in marriage you must separate causative elements from the progressions. The problem in your marriage is not because both of you hardly have issues to discuss in common. There are marriages the parties hardly relate on certain genres of conversation, but they have other commonalities. There are marriages one party is garrulous and the other party is muted in disposition. Yet these marriages are successful. And not all communication is an interplay of vocalization.

You know what I really think. I think the real problem in this marriage is your lack of emotional bandwidth. You clearly need an expanded emotional capacity to accommodate the emotions, desires and dispositions of your wife. Some men have this capacity and some don’t. Indeed most don’t. And that frustrates women. Men without sufficient emotional bandwidth don’t want to deal with the details of a woman’s longings in marriage. It’s why you think your wife is garrulous, inquisitive, attention seeking. In other words she hugs your emotional bandwidth. But that’s marriage. Marriage is emotionally demanding. You need emotional capacity to pay attention, bequeath affection and attend to emotional etceteras.

And you better thank God your wife is “troubling you” and wants your affection. You don’t want otherwise. There’s a man I know whose wife is so devoted she lovingly monitors his travel progression on even short city hops: has he boarded, has he landed, has he eaten, how was the meeting, is he resting… This will go on for the entire duration of his one night journey away from home. Same for same day travel. The man thought it suffocating at first, until he met a divorcee who told him his ex wife couldn’t care if he died on his trip. What you need do is ask God for expanded bandwidth to accommodate the emotional needs of your wife.

You need to adjust to the idea of marriage. Your entire complaint seems to be that your wife is behaving like a woman! You will need to pay attention to your wife, pay her compliments. You need to affirm her constantly too. Successfully married men do all these things. You can’t ignore your wife’s emotional needs. On a humorous note, you better compliment her after she finishes dressing for an outing. Your compliment is part of the dressing, the final touch! If she goes to all that trouble to make you proud you married a beautiful woman, the least you can do is compliment her. That’s just common sense. Imagine you buying her an expensive gift and she doesn’t even say thank you! The two situations are not of the same context but in marital logic they are analogical. Marriage has its own logic.

If you want to divorce your wife for the reasons you gave, you better get ready to keep divorcing. It takes time for a marital union to gel and fuse, and the first year is very crucial. Young couples shouldn’t live apart. In those days in Israel, when an army officer marries he takes a sabbatical to be with his wife. You need to spend time with your wife to deepen your friendship. Of course she must make adjustments too. She must know when to give you your space so you don’t feel suffocated. So, don’t be frustrated. You’re just experiencing marriage. You’ll survive. Just a few adjustments here and there. Your wife wants your attention – that’s all!

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

Tags : Love, Emotion, Marriage

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