"He Flirts Too Much"

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His Turn

"We Live Our Lives Differently"

"Patty has already left this marriage emotionally and physically," said Nick, 32. "We haven't made love-- hell, we haven't slept in the same bed-- for months. I'm the one in the guest room, thank you very much. She doesn't make dinner plans with me, refuses to join me for important business events, and she leaves my laundry in the hamper while she does hers. Is she trying to punish me? For a long time, I've suspected that Patty doesn't want to be married to me. This proves it.

"I'm not a flirt, and I don't ignore her at parties. Those accusations just aren't true. I love my wife, and she had nothing to be jealous about. But she's convinced that she doesn't measure up to everyone else, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. She's one of the most beautiful women I've ever met, but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy talking to other women. I'm a sociable guy who likes to be around accomplished people; what's wrong with that? I've always had a lot of friends. I don't know why patty thinks I'm a selfish, belittling cad. Nothing I do wins her forgiveness.

"Frankly, I'm not sure I even want it anymore. Her insane jealousy stifles me. Patty misreads my actions and assumes the worst. Every time we go out, I assure her that she's the only one I love, but she doesn't even hear me. She gets angry at the drop of a hat, and next thing you know, we're in the middle of a huge public argument.

"Maybe we are too different. Patty's organized and careful; I've always liked to take chances, add some risk to the mix. I don't think you grow or achieve anything unless you do. I remember when I was eight, I wanted to walk to my cousin's house to play. Mom said I was too young to go that far by myself, but I did it anyway. I caught hell for it, of course, but I think my folks were secretly pleased at my initiative.

"They were role models in every sense of the word. Both grew up poor, put themselves through college and started businesses-- Dad runs a large clothing manufacturing business, and mom is a real-estate broker. My folks had high expectations for both me and my younger sister. We've always been competitive, but in a good way. i think we believe that if we want something and try hard enough, we'll get it.

"But Patty has no confidence in herself at all. She can't make up her mind about anything, from buying a new car to choosing a restaurant, without endless discussion and waffling. it drives me nuts. And everything becomes an issue with her. Back in St. Louis, I figured Patty was getting bored with her job and needed new challenges. I wanted to help her, so when I was negotiating for my job up here, I told the interviewers what she was looking for. I just so happened that they knew of an opening. Why does she look for an ulterior motive in everything I do?

I don't know why Patty sees me as a selfish cad who belittles what's important to her. Nothing I do wins her forgiveness. Frankly, I'm not sure I want it anymore. She's insanely jealous. She misreads my actions and assumes the worst. Every time we go out, I reassure her that I care only about her, but she doesn't hear me. She becomes enraged instantly, starts hassling me, and before I know it we're in the middle of an embarrassing argument.

"In the last few months, we've been acting like roommates who barely know each other. It's easier than getting into a huge fight every time we open our mouths. I work late, have dinner with a friend or colleague and sometimes go out to the clubs till all hours to avoid going home to another inquisition. I don't want to lose Patty, but right now, our marriage is a joke."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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