"Our Son Is Off to War and It's Tearing Us Apart!"

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His Turn

"We've Become Distant"

"I don't want to get divorced any more than Annie does," said Charlie, 55. "I love her, love our family. But I'm also frustrated by how distant we've become.

"The fact that Sean could go to Iraq any day is a steady drumbeat in our lives and it's ramped up our problems. But I keep telling Annie, 'You can't change the Pentagon's mind. What's the point of talking about it?' Naturally, I'm afraid, too. Anytime you hear about car bombs or land mines, you're aware that it's somebody's child. I did not support this war, but I do support the soldiers who are fighting it. Sean is well trained and I pray that will keep him safe.

"The truth is, Annie and I haven't been happy for a long time. She's always been impatient, but now she's become nasty. If I miss the exit on the parkway or forget to pick up something, she calls me an idiot. I feel sandbagged by these skirmishes.

"We Can't Communicate Anymore"

"Annie gets particularly irritated about my work. She's energetic and no nonsense in figuring out what to do -- and I've always loved that about her. But I prefer to mull things over and allow a decision to unfold over time. Becoming a partner in this new firm has been more stressful than I ever imagined. I can deal with the financial risks. But one of my partners, whom I knew only as a business acquaintance, has turned out to be a poisonous personality who thrives on public displays of rage -- with me as his favorite target. Figuring out how to deal with him is a daily trial. When I talk about this with Annie, I'm not looking for a 1-2-3 solution; I'm just trying to clarify my thoughts. Annie pressures me to do this or that, and when I don't, she accuses me of ignoring her.

"The kitchen renovation has become a sore point, too. Annie's doing a great job, but if I notice that the cabinets aren't aligned, aren't I allowed to say so? I don't deserve to be hit with one of her stinging remarks.

"The Aspen trip was another disaster. It had been a long time since I'd had the luxury of sitting quietly and reading a book. I was not ignoring her. When I strolled back to the inn, feeling calm for the first time in days, I had my head handed to me. We ended up arguing all afternoon.

"I don't know why we can't communicate anymore. Maybe we never did, and we just didn't notice when the kids were young. They were our common project, but once they needed us less, it left a void that we haven't been able to fill. And, unfortunately, that has taken a terrible toll on our sex life. I can't even remember the last time we made love.

"It would be so nice to feel close, especially with Sean's leaving. The truly sad part is that, just when we need each other most, Annie and I can't draw on the love and friendship we used to share. Some days I think it's too late, that too much ill will has built up. But I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least try to salvage our marriage."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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