"He's Holding Me Back from My Dreams"

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His Turn

"I don't know why my wife is so upset," said Chad, 39. "We have a healthy child, the business is on track, our lives are good. Suddenly she makes this announcement about going back to school and we're fighting like cats and dogs. Kelly seems intent on painting me as this ogre who's trying to keep her down. Well, that's nonsense. I have valid reasons why now isn't a good time for her to go back to school.

"First of all, it'll hurt us financially. In this economy, people are not rushing out to landscape their property -- they're worried they could lose their home altogether. But Kelly is terrific at getting new customers and keeping old ones happy. She's figured out ways to save money and discovered that I was undercharging for my services compared to competitors. She started quoting higher prices -- nothing exorbitant, just more realistic -- and no one blinked. I was worried that we'd scare away customers but the opposite happened. Losing her would be a tremendous blow.

"And what about Charlie? He spends the day with us now -- we fixed up a little room in the back of the office as a nursery and playroom -- and I can't stand the thought of him being in daycare all day. Maybe I'm old school, but I think a mother should look after her own children, at least when they're as little as Charlie is.

"And frankly I'd miss having Kelly around all day. She's like a breath of fresh air, always positive -- at least until recently. That's been wonderful for me, because I've been lonely most of my life. My dad was a farmer who worked constantly, and my mom was overwhelmed with housework and kids. She was disappointed when I was born -- I have two older brothers and she desperately wanted a daughter. When my younger sister came along two years later, Mom focused all her attention on her and I got lost in the mix. When my parents did notice me it was mostly to tell me what I was doing wrong. My grades weren't that good, so college wasn't an option.

"After graduating from high school I went to work for a landscaping business. The owner taught me everything he knew and when he retired I took over. I got married at 19 -- way too early. It was never a good relationship, though we do have two great kids. I feel guilty about ending the marriage after 10 years and being able to move on with my life while my ex-wife can't. That, and the fact that she's the mother of two of my sons, is why I start her car or fix the air conditioning. But Kelly has a fit, yelling and threatening to leave me. I feel ambushed and it can take me upwards of a week to calm down afterward.

"Yes, Kelly has often mentioned a desire to go to college to me, but it has always been in a wistful, wouldn't-it-be-nice way. I just wonder what this sudden urge for an education is really all about. On my bad days I suspect she doesn't love me anymore and wants out of the marriage."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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