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Roni Rosengold wasn't always the self-possessed woman we met in July 1995. For years, this former stay-at-home mother of two sons had ignored her own needs while she did everything for her family and her husband, Stuart, now 65, a certified public accountant. Depressed, Roni went to counseling, which brought her a new-found confidence. From then on, she was on the warpath: Unless Stuart started showing her some respect and stopped nickel-and-diming every purchase she made, Roni was heading for divorce court.
But if Roni, now 60, had formerly felt like a doormat, Stuart grew to feel like a punching bag. He knew that his wife was unhappy, but he never expected that she would be so argumentative, always primed for a fight. "Roni doesn't just talk," he said at the time. "She rants and raves. If I tell her we need to cut back on our spending so we'll have money for retirement, she'll just run through all the terrible things I've done in my life."
The Rosengolds finally sought the advice of husband and wife marriage counselors Evelyn and Paul Moschetta, D.S.W., in New York City. Now, eight years after their therapy, we checked in with Roni and Stuart, who just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Have they learned to get along?
Stuart: We're much less uptight these days. Before counseling, we never really listened to one another during arguments, so even if we made up, we never accomplished anything.
Roni: These days if we disagree, I do everything I can to let go of my anger instead of stewing until I explode. Meditation helps -- I do it at least once, sometimes twice a day for 10 minutes.
Stuart: Now I can sit and talk about things that used to cause major fights, especially finances. For example, with our retirement plan, we figured out how to cut expenses together, as a couple. And did we need such a big house now that our kids are on their own? We agreed, instead, that it made sense to sell the house and buy a condo nearby.
Roni: And I'm much better about cutting back on what I spend...
Stuart:...except when it comes to our two granddaughters.
Roni: Well, that doesn't count. What really matters is Stuart never used to share his feelings -- or for that matter, listen to mine. Now he does. And he's also developed a terrific sense of humor. He makes me laugh all the time.
Stuart: What can I say? She's my lover and my best friend.