DEAR AMY: I am married to a beautiful woman who is pregnant with our second child. Over eight years of marriage, our ability to communicate and bond has deteriorated. We are complete opposites. I am the educated, driven workaholic, and she prefers the housewife role. I’ve always encouraged her to pursue something beyond that, but to no avail. All of our problems began early in our relationship when she revealed a serious problem with jealousy. She could not even stomach watching a lingerie commercial with me sitting beside her. I don’t have a jealous bone in my body. She has gotten better over the years, but I feel like the pointless fighting killed my passion for her. I almost left my wife. I told her that we had no future together and offered her any and all support she would need. When I found out she was pregnant, we changed our plan. I love this woman and my child. But I feel like being with her is a second job. I don’t find joy, I find anxiety and the desire to escape. I feel like I rush to sleep every night in hopes that a new day will bring something better, but all I see is my life passing me by. I know I fathered two children and it is my responsibility to be there for them. I would gladly take custody of them, if given the opportunity. I’m just afraid that if I continue like this, my children will grow up with a father who is an empty shell. My wife loves me. She does not want to give up on our marriage. What should I do?
Ready to Flee
DEAR READY: If your ability to communicate has deteriorated over time, this means that it can improve. Because of the high-stakes nature of your situation, you should try.
I assume you enjoyed your wife’s homebody temperament at one time, but now you would like her to change. You also don’t seem to have the capacity to imagine how she is feeling.
She is pregnant and caring for a young child. She also has an uncommunicative partner who rushes to bed each night. I’d imagine she’s a bit frustrated too.
Guess what? Sometimes it takes a heroic effort to be in a functioning family. The best way to be a great father to your son is to figure out how to love his mother well. Hoping that a solution will come to you in your sleep is not going to resolve the issues in your marriage. You sound quite depressed, but it’s time to engage instead of shutting down.
You and your wife should read, “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition,” by Harville Hendrix (2007, Henry Holt & Co). A couples’ counselor could help you to communicate better and possibly stay together — or part peacefully.
DEAR AMY: I’ve been talking with a gentleman (via text) for a year now. He is from my hometown. We met up in person at Christmas. Everything we wanted, happened. We talk or call every day, and our relationship grows. Unfortunately, we only get so far because of his feelings for another woman. In two weeks, we are meeting up again, but I recently found out that he had sex with this other woman. I am not sure what to do. He has said that he loves me, but maybe doesn’t have romantic feelings for me. Everything is there, but that. I’ve encouraged him to go after this other woman, but he says he doesn’t want to. My question: Do I continue this relationship, at the risk of ignoring other potential romantic partners out there because I’m always staring at my phone?
DEAR CONFUSED: This man has told you that he likes, but is not sexually attracted to you. You know that he is into another woman.
If you want a serious, exclusive, romantic, sexual, all-encompassing relationship, you had better look elsewhere.
As you suspect, you are missing out on opportunities to make new connections. You are also at risk of running into a light pole if you never look up from your phone. You can disengage by blocking this man’s number, in order to not be triggered by his text alerts.
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).