"I Wasn't Excited About My New Baby"

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His Turn

"I Can't Figure It Out"

"For the life of me, I can't figure out what's going on with this lady," said Sean, 29. "One moment she's fine, the next she's sobbing. When I ask what's wrong, she says, 'I don't know, I'm unhappy, I want a divorce.' She'll scream at me if I forget to buy juice or don't put Jake's toys in the color-coded bins. And she went nuts when I came home late one night and played with my son. Okay, it was past his bedtime, but it's not like he had to take the SATs the next day. Amy complains that I don't understand; well, I try, but in her book, I can't do anything right.

"I'm scared. My job is demanding. I already took a two-month leave because Amy wasn't functioning. My boss was great about it, but I can't take any more time off. I could ask her mother to come back, but that would only be a temporary fix.

"This is not the same woman I fell in love with the moment her brother introduced us. We'd talk and laugh for hours. To go from being best friends to lovers -- how much better does it get?

"I loved hanging out at her house. Her family was picture-book perfect; mine was completely dysfunctional. My father was abusive to my mother and to me. I'll never forget the time a friend and I accidentally broke a neighbor's window while playing baseball. My dad said, 'Son, tell me the truth, and I'll stand behind you.' So I confessed, and he beat me so hard with his fist that I almost passed out.

"My folks divorced when I was 9, and I've hardly seen my father since. Then Mom married someone even worse. My mother, who is in deep denial, still claims she remembers nothing of the beatings the guy gave both of us. My grandparents saved me: When I was 13 I went to live on their dairy farm, just north of Seattle. It was a loving, safe environment and I stayed there through high school, then joined the Army. Meanwhile, Mom divorced and remarried again, this time to a really nice guy. He runs an oil refinery near here, so we see them a good bit."

Moving Away

"The Army was a great experience for me. I met men I respected and who respected me. It also paid for college. I majored in electrical engineering, and when I was recruited for a job as a systems analyst, I leaped at it. By this time, Amy had decided she was madly in love with me, too. After that, everything happened quickly. We got married, had a baby, moved halfway across the country, had another baby.

"The move was a huge sacrifice for Amy. But I never thought things would get this bad. I'll do more around the house if that will help. I'll work harder at controlling my temper. But I don't know what to do about my mother. I know she's difficult -- okay, impossible -- but I never thought she and Amy would become enemies. I hate fighting with my mother. We finally have a decent relationship. Is it asking too much to have Sunday dinner with her?

"When Amy called me at work, hysterical, I got very rattled and told my secretary what was going on. She said she'd had a rough time when her daughter was born and that counseling helped her. I'm hoping against hope it can help us, too."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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