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
February 17, 2011 at 11:11 am , by Jennifer Castoro
With the economy such as it is (crummy) and jobs such as they are (scarce), the dilemma of this week’s endangered couple is one that so many families are now facing. Jan, a 44-year-old stay-at-home mom of three tweens, worked as an endocrinologist before she had children and is contemplating reentering the workforce. Her husband, Scott, is currently the sole provider for the family but recently had a serious heart attack at the young age of 44. His health scare has made them rethink their arrangement, and Jan’s not so sure she can handle it.
Jan’s turn She lives in constant fear that Scott’s going to drop dead, and though she tries not to burden him with her worries, she’s totally consumed with anxiety. Several bad experiences with childcare made the couple decide that Jan should stay home after their third child was born, but she loved and missed her work and the company of other doctors. As much as she’d like to go back to it, she’d need to be recertified, which involves taking classes and exams, and the thought of it terrifies her. She’s completely fixated on Scott’s health and what will happen to the family if something happens to her husband.
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!
November 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
To be sure, infidelity in a marriage is a particularly sensitive subject. There are your high-profile celeb cheaters (the list seems to grow every day . . .) who really just seem like scummy jerks, and there are your egregious cheaters who get it on right and left and seem to believe that marriage vows expire (a la the entire cast of Mad Men). But far more often there are couples for which cheating is the result of some denied unhappiness, or a reaction to a tragedy, or a myriad of other reasons that are a little more complex than an obvious right-versus-wrong situation. Clearly, cheating on your partner is never right, but whether it’s forgivable is another question entirely.
In this week’s judgment session, we have Kelly, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom, and her husband, James, an accountant of the same age. They’ve been married for 10 years and James has cheated three separate times: once with a temp from his accounting firm, once with a receptionist at his gym, and finally with a fellow guest on a cruise ship while on a trip with his wife. Read their stories and decide for yourself if you think Kelly should forgive James’s cheatin’ heart.