therapist

Can This Marriage Be Saved? I’m Too Scared to Go Back to Work

February 17, 2011 at 11:11 am , by

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.

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? He Started an Affair on Facebook

January 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm , by

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!



Can This Marriage Be Saved? Life After Trauma

January 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm , by

The horror that took place in Arizona last weekend has produced so many riveting stories about the victims, the heroes, the attack itself and its perpetrator. 1569_002As Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recovers from her awful injuries, we see images of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, sitting in wait by his wife’s bedside. Of course, we can only imagine what challenges await this woman and her devoted partner as she heals and regains strength, and what kind of struggles other spouses face after dealing with the near loss of their other half. Granted, this is a shocking and drastic example, but it’s not uncommon for a couple to face a traumatic health scare or unthinkable life event during the course of their marriage. So the question becomes, what happens when life returns to “normal?”

Our expert Can This Marriage Be Saved? therapists have tackled this issue before, helping couples dealing with all sorts of crises: cancer or other potentially fatal illnesses, the loss of a child or parent, the aftermath of an accident or the haunting memories of a war zone. One such couple, Laurel and Joe, were featured in our June 2004 issue.

Laurel, 26, was a stay-at-home mom until Joe, 25, severed his spinal cord in a motorbike accident and became paralyzed from the waist down. It wasn’t clear that Joe would survive and, when he did, the couple were elated. But reality quickly settled in when they tried to adjust to their new way of life. Read more


Can This Marriage Be Saved? This One Wasn’t!

October 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm , by

YLF_036Throughout the 57-year history of our Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, only five times has a couple thrown in the marital towel at the conclusion of the column. Yup, five times: twice in the ’50s and three times in the ’70s. The reasons varied, from a couple who married far too young to another in which the husband turned out to be gay, but it’s definitely not often that our couples don’t give it a go after they’ve been through counseling.

One of those unhappy unions appeared in our June 1977 issue. Angela, a 30-year-old mother of two described in the column as “thin as a bed slat but exuding overpowering sexuality,” is all set to divorce Lyle, her second husband, a tall 46-year-old with “a grim, sad expression.” (No, they are not pictured at right. Those are models. That guy is more squinty and creepy than grim and sad.) Read through their stories and see if you agree that they should call it quits.

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