May 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
At some point during the course of your marriage, you may have uttered some version of the following phrase: “I have three kids: A 6-year old, a 10-year-old and a 45-year old.” Because sometimes all the feeding, clothing, reminding and directing extends beyond the kids. Donna and Leo, married for 25 years, are locked in the same sad cycle. She feels like she has to monitor and pester him constantly, and he feels like she’s being his mom.
Donna’s turn Her husband is the most irresponsible person on earth. He forgets to pay the mortgage, refuses to monitor his diabetes, comes home late without calling and won’t involve her in their finances. Donna went through a bout with colon cancer, and all he did to help was to tell her she’d be fine. She’s always run the show since childhood, when her parents worked long hours and she was left in charge of the household chores, so she’s assumed the same role in her marriage. Her husband always compares her to his mother, whom he doesn’t seem to like: When his mom says to do something, Leo does the opposite. Donna hates that he’s not affectionate in any way, and their sex life is on autopilot. He doesn’t appreciate all she does for him, and she’s finally fed up.
Leo’s turn The way he sees it, he’s just trying to protect his wife. He was the only child of loving parents and didn’t grow up expressing his affection, so he doesn’t understand why Donna can’t see that because he supports her financially and stays faithful, he loves her. She worries too much, so he tells her things will be fine or leaves her out of managing their finances so she won’t stress over them. He hates her micromanaging of his health, so he “forgets” to take his pills or eat properly to spite her. And he only kept repeating that everything would be okay when she was diagnosed with cancer because he thought that’s what she needed to hear and he was terrified to lose her. Despite everything, he’s desperate to keep his marriage alive. Read more
April 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
As if a marriage with healthy kids and humdrum daily stress weren’t tough enough, the couple in this month’s new Can This Marriage Be Saved? column is facing a parent’s worse nightmare: the death of a child. Thirty-four-year-old Bree, a stay at home mom to two girls, and Dan, 35, have been married for 14 years. Their son, Sean, died two years ago at age 6 from a metabolic disorder he had from birth, and the couple haven’t been the same since.
Bree’s turn She is so deeply, horribly depressed that she can’t get herself out of bed most days. When Sean was born, she was told he wouldn’t live past a year, but he made it to 6 and became the sole focus of her life. She feels Dan is no help with any of the kids, since he’s always traveling for business for weeks at a time, and is resentful because of it. Dan is also demanding and exhausting and gets upset when Bree doesn’t give him enough attention. She swings between feeling guilty that she didn’t do enough for Sean and angry at her husband, her girls and life in general. And she doesn’t understand how Dan has seemingly moved on with his life, gone back to work and wants to have sex, which she can’t even fathom. Their marriage died along with their son. Read more
April 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
I love sports. Watching them on TV, going to games, playing them. . . .I may as well be a dude. This makes my baseball-obsessed boyfriend very happy. But what happens when your husband is consumed with all sports, all the time and you’d rather spend the day trapped in a jail cell with a rabid raccoon than watch a game? Could a sports obsession actually doom a marriage?
That’s the issue this week’s couple, Carlos and Gloria, are facing. When they met, Carlos was a divorced, doting dad who loved taking his new lady out on the town, while Gloria impressed him with her cooking and her loving way with his daughter. Now, they’re locked in a passive-aggressive battle worthy of one of Carlos’s beloved teams’ matchups.
Gloria’s turn Everything her husband does involves sports: watching them, going to see them, playing them or teaching them to his daughter. Gloria’s lonely and bored because, though he’s often in the same room, her husband just isn’t there. She hates sports and initially tried to watch with him but now can’t even bother. She didn’t know how obsessed Carlos was until they moved in together after they wed, and now she misses the things they used to do while they were dating. Read more
March 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Affairs are clear no-nos. Sleep with a person other than your spouse and you are pretty indisputably in the wrong. But what about unconsummated relationships? Does an affair of the heart equal an affair of the flesh? Or, in plain terms, if you fall for someone else but you never get it on, are you still a cheater?
This week’s Can This Marriage couple, Larry and Liz, are dealing with that very issue. Larry, a partner in his family’s contracting business, has been married to Liz, a stay-at-home mom of three boys, for 10 years. He chose their anniversary dinner as the venue to tell his blindsided wife about his emotional affair.
Liz’s turn She should have seen this coming. Larry’s been spending all his time at the office or the gym, getting fit for his new love, and they haven’t had sex in ages. Liz gained significant weight with each pregnancy, so she’s not surprised her husband isn’t attracted to her anymore, but it’s not as if he couldn’t have guessed she’d put on some pounds: They met at a Weight Watchers meeting. In the early years of their dating, they worked out together and kept each other in check. Now, Larry works out with the other woman – a receptionist at his office who’s fitter and younger than Liz. Larry tried to sleep with the coworker, but she turned him down, saying she didn’t think of him that way. What hurts Liz the most is that Larry seems to think it’s okay since he didn’t physically cheat. Read more
March 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Many of us have a tendency to hold on to objects and items we know we should just ditch: receipts for gifts from three Christmases ago, cassette tapes we’ll never play again, the 10-plus-year-old leaky rubber boots that now only function as doorstops. But for someone like Sharon, in this month’s Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, clutter is more than just a hassle – it’s a relationship-wrecking issue that engulfs her living room and her life.
Sharon is a 43-year-old accountant who’s been married to Brian, 40, for 10 years. She’s been a hoarder for their entire relationship, but Brian has only recently gotten fed up with the mess.
Sharon’s side She can’t bear to throw away her things because she associates many of them with particular memories, and she’s enraged that her husband threw some out without asking her first. She has obsessive-compulsive disorder and that, combined with her anxiety about getting rid of her things, has caused her hoarding to get out of control. She wants to learn to let go of all the stuff, most of which she admits is junk, but it gives her such overwhelming fear that she physically can’t do it. Sharon and Brian met online and fell in love fast, bonding over their lonely childhoods and shared hobbies, and Brian has known of her problem since the first time he saw her jam-packed apartment. He didn’t voice his complaints until they bought a home three years ago and had to pack their belongings to move. Now, he avoids his wife completely, preferring video games and work to her company. She feels totally isolated, alone and desperate to change. Read more
March 4, 2011 at 11:11 am , by Jennifer Castoro
It’s not tough to understand why those early years of marriage – the child-free, travel-ready, never-too-tired-for-sex ones – could be the happiest of all your wedded years. According to new research from Britain’s Understanding Society, older couples are far less content in their unions than younger ones, and young, childless couples are happiest of all. Not really shocking stuff. But what happens when you hit those middle-of-the-road years and find yourself a bit . . . bored? That’s the case for Emily, a 36-year old schoolteacher and mother of two who’s been married to Joe, 40, for 15 years, in this week’s story.
Emily’s turn Her husband is total dullsville. He used to have interests like reading and woodworking and took her on romantic trips on the spur of the moment, but now he’s so focused on running his insurance business and taking care of their house that he does nothing else. She’s not attracted to him anymore, since he’s gained some weight and wears old-man clothes, so they rarely have sex. Her close friend, Deb, is getting a divorce and moving across the country, and Emily’s jealous of her freedom and daydreaming about leaving, too. Joe was her first and only boyfriend and she married him at 21, mostly to escape her overbearing parents that clearly favored her older brother. And she’s bored with work, too: She never wanted to be a teacher but took the job to please her parents. They’ve always been an issue for Joe, who thinks they control his wife. Either way, Emily just can’t find any redeeming qualities in her husband anymore. Read more
January 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
By this point in time, pretty much everyone on the planet – and their mother, neighbor and dog – has a Facebook account. That may be an overstatement, but with over 500 million active users, the tally isn’t too far off. And while it’s a great place to reconnect with old friends, share photos and updates and generally keep up-to-date with the people in your life, it’s also an easy place to get into trouble. And not just the computer-hacking, home-robbery-when-you’re-on-vacation type of trouble, either. In the Can This Marriage Be Saved? column from our February issue, one husband used the social network to get back in touch with an old flame and start up a new affair.
Sue, a 40-year-old working mom of twin teenage girls, is married to Carl, also 40, who travels frequently for business. As Sue found out, he ended up traveling for more than just work.
Sue’s side She’s totally blindsided by her husband’s affair. The other woman, Jill, is Carl’s high school girlfriend who dumped him not long before Sue and Carl went on their first date. When they met, Sue was wary of getting involved because he seemed hung up on Jill, but by their second date he seemed to have forgotten about her and they fell in love quickly. Now they bicker constantly because Carl seems to think that despite her full-time job she doesn’t need help around the house, and they also don’t have anything more than surface conversations – and definitely don’t have sex. She loves Carl and wants to save the marriage, but at the moment she can’t even think straight.
Carl’s side He didn’t want the affair to happen and had no intention of sleeping with her when they reconnected through Facebook, but when he saw Jill in person after suggesting they meet up for coffee, he felt the past evaporate and his old feelings rushed back. He now talks to Jill constantly and has slept with her several times, and he can’t seem to stop himself. He’s totally unhappy in his marriage and thinks Sue talks down to him, is always anxious and acts like a micromanager and a dictator. In his eyes, the marriage has been in trouble for a while and it’s only come to a head because of his affair.
The counselor’s take Many people don’t consider the implications of reconnecting when they hit “send’ on a friend request, but adolescent relationships can leave strong marks that are tough to erase. Sue and Carl were terrible communicators, trading accusations and brushing their true feelings aside, and it’s tough to save marriages like theirs because the anger and blame runs deep. Since Carl’s affair had flourished via email, the counselor recommended he and Sue communicate that way, too, so they could speak honestly and really hear each other. He also had to vow not to talk to Jill for at least 6 months while he and Sue worked on the marriage. They had to slowly work their way back into sex after he violated her trust so badly. They started to go on dates, just the two of them, to restore their intimacy. After 6 months of counseling and steady progress, Carl told Jill that he and Sue were a team and planned to stay that way.
What do you think? Is it too easy for old flames to reconnect on Facebook? Have you ever gotten back in touch with a past love?
Don’t forget to pick up our February 2011 issue for the full story, on newsstands now!