Dear Readers: A response to a letter in my June 9 column is worth sharing as it reflects a too-common situation, when spouses use silent, distancing methods to deal with problems, rather than confront, discuss and seek help for them.
The original writer said he’d been unhappily married for several years, because 1) his step-daughter was “unappreciative,” lazy, talked on the cell phone too much; and 2) there’d been no intimacy with his wife for nine months.
Meanwhile, he’d been close (secretly) to another woman for seven years and, though he loves his wife, was considering an affair with this mutually-attracted “friend.”
Here’s the feedback:
Reader: So the guy’s teenage kid talks too much on the phone, has a messy room, and sometimes gives him attitude. This is a free pass to have an affair? On that reasoning, every parent of teenagers ought to be getting it on, too.
He’s been cultivating the so-called friend for years, and now he’s looking for a reason to go further. The wife is cold. I wonder why?
Some cultivation of friendship with her over the years might’ve been useful. If only the wife were to be affected I’d say, cut him loose. But he’s been raising the wife’s daughter – and it’s going to hurt a teenage girl a lot for the father figure, even a jerky one, to leave. And especially to blame the kid as he waltzes out the door.
Aside from smacking him upside the head, perhaps counselling might help. For him.
A-My response was similar, except I recommended the counselling first, while you go straight to the “smack.”
If this guy doesn’t soon recognize his own part in this unhappy household, I’m then with you - his wife should give him a firm ultimatum that he/they get help or he’s out.
I left my husband of 20 years, six years ago; he has nothing to do with our four kids.
I’ve been living with a woman as my partner for four years. My kids (20, 19, 17, and 8) love her and she loves them but she’s never had kids and constantly complains about them.
They’re good kids: Straight A students, no drinking, no drugs and they love to hang around the house as a family.
My partner says she wants this but always gets mad at someone about crumbs, or a light left on, etc. She’s combative and angry, always picking at me and them, but won’t listen to reason.
We run a business together and I do most of that work plus keeping house, and raise my kids... while she criticizes everything. I love her but I feel like I’m treading water and not getting anywhere.
She’s very loving at times... but mostly insecure and unhappy. I’ve tried to talk to her about it but she says I’m harassing her.
Lately, my kids are upset because they feel that they can’t please her.
What should I do?
- Tired Pleaser
Face reality – you may have chosen the wrong partner for your family as well as for yourself. The love between you is being constantly overshadowed by conflict and anger, all directed at you, since you stand up for your children who aren’t at fault.
I’d be willing to bet that this woman is, in some ways, like your ex-husband – self-absorbed, with little warmth for the family scene, perhaps even jealous of it.
Present your case. She’ll have to listen, and work with you on compromises, or eventually leave.
My then-boyfriend changed while dating me; the qualities I admired faded. He was always stressed. We fought constantly. Still, we eventually married.
Six months later, my mom died of cancer. I became depressed, gained 50 lbs, and started grief counselling.
We fought over my inheritance… I eventually used it as a down-payment to buy our home.
We haven’t been intimate in a year.
My husband’s parents (Asian) will be upset if we separate. He thinks we should stay together, and things will work out.
- Your Thoughts?
Your future rests on what you and he feel, not on his parents. Discuss what each of you is prepared to do to make things “work out.”
Nothing improves through neglect. Marriage counselling would help you both confront why you’re disappointed with him, and how your mother’s loss affects you both.
If you can’t eventually re-connect, and without children involved, take a break and re-assess.
Tip of the day:
Secret “friendships” while married, still manage to affect the couple’s dynamic.