We’re high-school sweethearts, just shy of 40 years married. My wife raised a son and daughter on our one income, agreed together.
Early on, she shunned all girlfriends and gravitated to male companionship, accompanying me on countless all-male weekend sports tournaments but always faithful.
Eventually, I had to quit smoking, limit eating/party life as I aged out of the competitive mode. She misses that spotlight as the only woman in the crowd.
When menopause hit along with a promotion, her authority took over where I couldn’t say anything to her liking. There’s plenty of alcohol in the mix.
When I have a point not to her liking, it becomes a challenge and she spins, lies, deflects, swears, doesn’t listen to anything.
Our daughter recently moved into the house due to Covid and is treated similarly - we’re now two people to achieve her ends. She always has an opinion even when not needed, always needs to be heard, a planner, personally needy.
I’ve suppressed opinions for fear they’re not to her liking. If she doesn’t get her way, she becomes contemptuous, vindictive, petulant and spins it into being my problem.
I don’t fix things she breaks anymore, and that’s not to her liking. She’s become entitled and demands that her world exist according to her standards.
We still have a love/sex connection, however slim. There’s plenty of attitude in the air, and communication other than what she wants to hear, is gone. What’s going on?
Why has she changed?
You’ve already presented an alphabet’s worth of contributing reasons: Alcohol, arrogance, attention-seeking, authoritativeness, closed-mindedness, contempt, demands, entitlement, harassment, hormonal changes, neediness, being opinionated.
To pin these down to a definitive answer would require a medical examination regarding health/hormone effects, a psychiatric examination regarding personality changes, and couples’ therapy regarding the changes in your relationship. The likelihood of your wife agreeing to any of these explorations are slim.
The future depends on what you’re willing/able to do about your relationship, and your life.
Ask yourself: If nothing changes on her part, how long are you willing to stay in this situation? The “slim” love/sex connection can’t be reparative enough, unless you’re playing it down and emphasizing the worst.
This situation is also unhealthy for your daughter. Hopefully, as Covid restrictions/fears ease up and vaccinations keep increasing, she can move on from living there.
If loyalty to your wife keeps you hoping for changes, she’d be willing to consider if you tell her that you’re at the point of moving on your own, then say so. Urge her to investigate her own state of mind about your marriage.
Ignore any immediate overreaction, but talk to a lawyer and an accountant about all that separating entails. Then share the news with her and decide what’s right for your emotional and physical health at this age and stage.
What you’re enduring now - and whatever’s driving her - warrants considering all options.
FEEDBACK Regarding the widower who’s being scammed in the United Kingdom by a woman he met online (June 8):
Reader – “He gave her money for her damaged roof. However, she lives in a rental unit and that means the landlord was obligated to fix it, not her. She is lying about all of her false needs.
“Like you said, this man needs to alert the police immediately, stop giving her money and get support for his mental state over what’s happening.”
My friend of several years has a daughter who wet her bed until age nine. The mother found it so upsetting that she confided in me about it. I gave her a lot of support and suggested different ways to help her daughter.
When the girl was invited to stay for a week on her own with her grandparents, the bed-wetting stopped.
My youngest daughter, now age 10, is also a bed-wetter. Having researched the issue, I wasn’t that upset about it, and told my friend about the coincidence of both our girls having this problem.
To my surprise, she was judgemental and harsh with me about it! She repeated several times, “But she’s already 10!”
Do I tell her how hurt I am?
She’s different from you. Once her problem’s solved, she forgets it and your support. Consider her a friend for some areas, but not for others. Or she’ll disappoint you again.
Tip of the day:
Living with emotional battering isn’t a relationship, it’s a constant physical/mental health risk. A solution is necessary, at least for yourself and daughter.