"He's So Needy, It's Making Me Crazy"
His Turn"Am I a Mind Reader?"
"I'm terrified that Marlene is going to leave me because I can't satisfy her anymore," said Roy, 49. "We thought Viagra would help, but all I got was a headache. There I was with my beautiful wife in her sexy nightgown. You'd think I'd be turned on but it was just the opposite: I panicked.
"For the entire three years we've been married, I've felt I can't do anything right. For example, I like to have dinner ready when she gets home after a long day. But instead of being pleased, she makes a scene about how the garlic salt is still on the counter. Frankly, I don't think leaving spices on the counter is a major crime.
"When we were dating, Marlene made me feel special and important; now she can barely stand having me around. If I start a conversation, she walks away. If I follow her, she shoots me dagger looks. What is that about? Aren't a husband and wife supposed to be involved in each other's lives?
"So what if I'm not much of a handyman? When I was single I paid a neighbor's son to mow the lawn and clean the gutters and I'd call a plumber if the toilet broke. To me it's worth paying for chores like that. But in her five years as a single mom, Marlene and her boys always did everything themselves. A couple of weeks ago I agreed to clean out the gutters but got interrupted by a phone call from a student's mother. By the time I got off the phone, I'd forgotten about the gutters. When Marlene got home, the ladder was still leaning against the house and the gutters were half-cleaned. She launched into a tirade about how irresponsible I am and how I might as well be one of her kids. Then she started in about how she's the one who pays all the bills and does all the driving. I was stunned. How was I supposed to know those things bothered her? Am I a mind reader?
"This situation is alien to me because my parents were always loving and respectful to each other. They also adored me, their only child, rooting for me at every soccer game, driving me into Boston for art lessons at the Museum of Fine Arts. I simply lack experience with conflict. Even my divorce from my first wife was amicable."