My daughter’s been married to her husband for over a year. They lived together for several years before marriage.
They’re both late-20s, employed with good jobs. They bought a house just before getting married.
They experienced some challenging life events last spring as she had a miscarriage and his parents were both ill.
However, everyone seemed to recover and we thought they were rebounding well. Yet, a couple of weeks ago our daughter called us in tears.
Apparently, her husband has been going out "with the boys" every weekend this past summer, spending no time with her on their time off.
When she asked if anything was wrong and how they could improve their relationship, he said he was "having doubts about his future, including (her.)"
He’s refusing counselling, won't communicate, and spends all of his time on Twitter when she tries to talk to him.
He’s scheduled himself to work every weekend this fall, so she won't see much of him.
How long should she let this go on?
Should I step in and try to help, or do they have to work this out themselves?
It’s hard to stand back and see your daughter hurt, but “stepping in” to a marital problem her husband’s not sharing with you, could distance him further.
She needs your support, love, and positive company when she’s lonely.
Most important, suggest she gets counselling on her own, as a professional has experience unearthing the underlying issues.
They both have grief – loss of a child, parents’ health scare. Such events can be low points in a relationship, prompting fear of intimacy, and sometimes even cheating.
For your daughter to come through this period strong and independent – no matter its outcome – she needs to confront it herself.
If her husband remains aloof, she also needs legal advice so she’s informed enough to handle whatever next steps she chooses.
When we met, I was 28, single. He was 48, divorced, no kids. From the minute we met, he was determined that we’d be together.
It’s 30 years later. We’ve had a great life, along with ups and downs.
My husband contracted a deteriorating disease a couple of years ago. He struggles to still run his store, which he loves. I work with him and pick up the slack, which is increasing every week.
We can’t predict how he’ll be from one month to the next, as his condition worsens.
I love the intelligent man he still is.
I remain loyal to him but get tired and depressed as my private caregiving duties pile up, from cutting his food to helping bathe him.
How do I keep a positive outlook when this appears to be my life for years ahead?
Sad Younger Wife
It’s a tough blow for both of you. He’s undoubtedly as sorry for what it’s doing to you, as you are about his situation.
There are possibilities for help and some relief, which you need to explore in your community.
Research your local healthcare, which supply affordable housekeepers and personal caregivers.
Check out those that offer occasional respite care so you get to re-charge your energies during a break.
Try to create a “team” of trusted helpers – someone at the store, too – so you’re managing the myriad tasks by overseeing instead of always being hands-on.
Your own well being is as crucial to your husband as to you.
Readers – please email your own similar experiences and suggestions as well.
Reader’s Commentary “I (respectfully) disagree with your advice to the man surrounded by clutter at home (Sept. 5):
“You advised that the couple get honest about the problem and give away what's no longer needed.
“I believe there may be a serious hoarding issue here that’ll require professional help to handle.
“The fact that the wife wants to keep everything in case they may need it sounds like hoarding to me (there are two hoarders in my family).”
Ellie – You raise a good point: When does clutter become hoarding?
As you know, hoarding’s an anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is extreme and hard to treat.
The husband’s description of his wife’s clutter vs. his strong “claustrophobia” from it seemed more of a power struggle between them.
However, your commentary may be helpful to them and I hope they read it.
They do need to probe this problem/conflict with professional help.
Tip of the day:
Adult children experiencing marital problems need support and professional counseling, plus advice, not parental intervention except in cases of abuse.