"My Husband Is a Big Bore"

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His Turn

"So Emily thinks I have no redeeming qualities?" said Joe, 40, sighing. "That's a low blow. I may not be perfect, but I'm a loving husband, devoted father, and excellent provider. I guess that's not enough for her.

"It's true I've neglected my hobbies and I tend to talk about my business and family. But since when does Emily's happiness depend on whether I take photographs or play tennis? Besides, I could say the same about her: When was the last time she made pottery or discussed an interesting book?

"Emily can't accept that we're not footloose single people anymore. We have children to raise, careers to manage, and a house to run. We've achieved our goals, but Emily is infatuated with the freedom her friend Deb has. She's planted crazy ideas in Emily's head about the 'burdens' of marriage and motherhood. Deb's a bad influence, and as far as I'm concerned, she can't move to Arizona fast enough.

"For years now I've been walking on eggshells, fearful of Emily's bad temper and snide comments. We almost never make love; Emily has rejected me so many times I've stopped trying. She's perpetually annoyed with me. If I mow the lawn, she claims I'm more interested in it than her. She's so moody I would rather mow the lawn than be with her.

"I grew up in Queens, New York. My parents instilled strong work ethics in my sister and me, and I grew up helping my dad with home repairs. I take great pride in the way I look after our property today. And yes, I'm reluctant to pay somebody to do work I can do myself. But instead of appreciating my efforts, Emily makes nasty remarks.

"It's almost hard to believe now just how easy it was to fall in love with her. Emily was younger and more sheltered than the other girls I'd dated, but she was also more intelligent, witty, and refined. I liked her looks -- she's a pretty blonde -- and our personalities clicked. But her parents have always pushed her around, and that's been a much, much bigger problem than Emily admits. She wanted to become a librarian, but went into teaching to satisfy them. Her mother -- the most egotistical, overbearing person I've ever met -- phones eight times a day, shows up unannounced, and finds fault with everything. If Emily so much as forgets to send a cousin a birthday card, she hears about it from her mom. Emily's father is just as bad. He insists on being right and belabors every point until you give in to shut him up. I can't stand being around them, and have begged Emily to set limits. But even though she bad-mouths her parents to me, she refuses to do anything to change the situation.

"As for parenting, Emily is being unfair. Her workday ends at 3 p.m., when school is over, whereas that's my busiest time. I simply cannot scoot away from the office in the middle of the afternoon to chauffeur the kids around. When I'm not working I drive Lisa and Will to activities, help them with homework, and take them to the park. Why won't Emily give me credit for that?

"And this is the first I've heard that she hates my appearance. She's never commented on my weight or clothes before, though she did buy me some clothes that were way too trendy for me.

"Despite everything, I love my wife and can't bear the thought of losing her. I'm not mad at Emily for disliking me -- I'm just heartbroken that she feels that way. I'll do my part to improve our relationship, but she needs to do her part, too, by improving her attitude."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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