Question: I’m 48, the father of children aged 2, 9 and 11. Their mother is 39 and we’ve been separated for four months. We’ve had a problem for several years.
I lived a wild single life, with little contact with my family. My father died when I was 18. My wife’s parents split when she was six, and after that she rarely saw her father.
At 18, she moved in with a guy for seven years. We started dating three months after they separated.
Now, I want to slow down and be a family, going out only once on a weekend. She’s been on stress leave from work for a year. We’ve had marriage counselling and she’s seeing someone for depression. I’ve started therapy for anger management.
Even after our kids were born my wife would be out till 2 or 3 a.m. or not come home at all. She’d lie about where she’d been and I’d get mad. At home, she’d go to bed early, spending no time with me.
We’re deeply in debt due to her poor money management. I get mad about that too.
I still love her madly and want to be a family, but she’s enjoying her new freedom. What should I do?
Lost in Limbo
Answer: Get your priorities straight during this critical time: Be a “family” for your kids. Give them the time and help they need to adjust to your separation and the after-effects of anger and fights.
Continue with your own therapy to find strategies other than anger and control to handle situations you don’t like. And be supportive (without intruding) about the counselling your wife is receiving. She desperately needs to probe what’s driving and depressing her.
You two are out of sync from the deepest levels on up. “Loving her madly” is unfortunately not enough to bridge this huge gap. You both need to find new and separate ways to get past old hurts and losses before you can consider trying to be a team again.
Question: I dated a guy two years ago. My best friend was my go-to girl for advice about him. I didn’t like him enough, so I ended it.
Later, we reconnected. My friend encouraged me to go for him, but said she didn’t actually like him.
I ended it again but he still wanted to be friends. Then he started hanging out with her, a lot, and he didn’t even go to our school. She avoided talking to me about him. I felt hurt and suspicious.
I couldn’t be open to him or her any more. I really missed her but couldn’t trust her. Our friendship deteriorated to the point where we stopped speaking.
After 10 months, I finally asked her why she did this. She reminded me that she’d said that if I didn’t want her to hang out with him, I just had to say so. But now they’re true friends.
How can I ask her to stop talking to him? Shouldn’t she know how to treat friends’ ex-boyfriends?
I now feel I was a bad friend and there was a serious miscommunication. We both find it hard to get past this. How can we get a good friendship back?
Answer: You blurred the rules, but there’s hope for the friendship. By expecting her to consider him off-limits — though you said otherwise — you created a problem that you can now resolve. Consider it a life lesson: When you’ve been guilty of sending mixed messages, a sincere apology can clear the air. Be open again, and treat her friendship with this guy as valid.
TIP OF THE DAY
Separating is sometimes necessary for people to find a healthy way forward.