"She Needs to Stop Texting and Start Talking to Me"

Listen in as one real-life couple works through a major crisis in their relationship with the help of a marriage therapist.
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The couple:
Heidi: 37, management consultant
Brett: 38, part-time paralegal
Married: 13 years
Kids: Emma, 12; Madison, 10
The counselor:
Jonathan Alpert, New York, New York

The Background: Heidi is type A, Brett's laid-back, but their differences were part of the attraction. Then six years ago Heidi was promoted and her schedule got crazy -- she's usually away four nights a week. Since her job paid six figures and Brett was making $10 an hour, she asked him to quit to take care of their daughters, then 4 and 6. Now Heidi's always working and she and Brett communicate through e-mails and texts. When she is home, they're often fighting.

Heidi's Turn

I feel like I express myself better in writing, because I can think through what I want to say. But Brett hates my e-mails and texts. And he takes them the wrong way. At one point he said he wanted me to be more emotional in my communication, so before I left on a business trip I sent him an e-mail that said, "I love you -- and I'm glad we're not divorced, even though you do drive me crazy sometimes." I thought it was warm and witty. I even put a smiley face at the end. But he totally didn't get it. When I called him to let him know my plane had landed, he asked me if I wanted a divorce!

Brett says that texting is hurting our marriage. But I don't know what else I'm supposed to do. It's hard to find time when we're both free to talk, especially if I'm in a different time zone. And it's not like I never call. I try to phone Brett once or twice while I'm away. But that's not enough for him. The minute I get home he accuses me of ignoring him and we start fighting.

I send Brett about 15 texts and e-mails per day -- usually about the girls' schedules and things that need to be done around the house. They're short and to the point. But I guess he wants love letters or something. When I sent a 10-word text reminding him to pay the car insurance, he shot back a reply that said, "You write like a robot." What does he want from me? Brett's mad that I e-mail him orders, but he's not good with details or deadlines. Things would slip through the cracks if I didn't remind him.

It hurts to miss so much of Emma and Madison's childhood, but since Brett wasn't making much money I felt I had to take this job. Last year I bought the girls a cell phone so I'd be able to talk to them a few times a day -- when they're on their way to school, in the afternoon, and before bed. Brett sarcastically calls it "teleparenting," but it's the best I can do under the circumstances. At least I know what's happening in their lives.

Still, Emma and Madison complain that I'm too attached to my BlackBerry, and Brett feels like he's in competition with my laptop because I take it to bed with me and work until I fall asleep.

I feel like I don't have a choice, though. I love Brett but he has been underemployed for our entire marriage. I could work less if he made more money, but instead of searching for a full-time job he settled for part-time. If I didn't have to be away so much I wouldn't be constantly texting. If my job weren't so demanding, I wouldn't have to work 24/7.

Continued on page 2:  Brett's Turn

 

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