"We Became Parents and Fell Out of Love"

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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Alison's Turn

The Couple

Alison: 31, EMT
Trevor: 35, sales manager
Married: It's complicated (married 1 1/2 years, together 4 years)
Kids: Donovan, 8, Joy, 1

The Counselor

Susan Ko, Ph.D., Los Angeles

The Background

Alison and Trevor were living together and considering marriage when Trevor's sister Yvette -- a single mom -- was killed. Though he and Alison had only been together eight months, they took in Yvette's 4-year-old son, Donovan. But with Trevor nearly incapacitated by grief, the two were soon overwhelmed by their new responsibilities and conflicting parenting styles.

Her Story

Ever since his sister was killed, the Trevor I knew and fell in love with is gone. We don't have a relationship anymore. It's not that he's mean, he's just completely absent, in my life and in Donovan's. He gets up in the morning, goes to work, comes home and goes straight to our bedroom to lie down. Meanwhile, I do everything for Donovan -- play with him, take him to school, do all the cooking and cleaning. I adore Donovan and I love being a parent, but I can't do it alone. Trevor knows I need help -- it's not like he fights me on it, but he's not stepping up. "Just tell me what to do," he says. If he paid more attention to what I'm doing, he'd know how to help.

I want him to start being a father figure and learn to discipline his nephew. Trevor knows we have to set limits for Donovan, but he doesn't like enforcing them because he feels so sorry for him. We're trying to teach Donovan to stay in his own bed through the night, but if I go away for one night, Trevor lets Donovan in our bed and we're back to square one. Trevor will tell me, "His mother is gone, we're being cruel, let him be." Yet most of the time, if Donovan needs a cuddle or reassurance, I'm the one who provides it -- Trevor's totally checked out.

Donovan started calling me Mom but he doesn't call Trevor Daddy, and Trevor doesn't want him to. I think it's too hard for him. Maybe it makes his sister's death seem more final, but who knows? He completely shuts down any time I try to get him to talk about Yvette. He just pushes me away, which makes me feel abandoned and alone. Sometimes I'll say mean things to him just to try to get an ­emotional response out of him.

We're two people living in the same house leading separate lives. We don't get along anymore and we've stopped having sex -- we don't even touch. If we have a spare moment, we'd rather spend it with friends. It's gotten to where we don't even like each other. I hate who he has become and he can't stand me constantly bitching at him.

I quit my job to take care of Donovan. I completely changed my life. It was my decision, but I'm still mad that Trevor's not helping me. I've given up so much I feel like I've lost myself. Recently I told Trevor I'm not in love with him anymore and I don't want to be with him. I'm only here because I'm not going to leave Donovan without a mom again.

Continued on page 2:  Trevor's Turn

 

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