"My Husband Is Old-Fashioned and Sexist"

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Jose's Turn

"I don't know what's gotten into my wife," said José, 45. "I thought everything was fine with us. She has always made me happy. She's a wonderful wife and mother. I thought I made her happy, too. I've given her a comfortable and secure life -- far better than what she could have had in Mexico. And I haven't looked at another woman since the day we met.

"If Maria is so unhappy, why did she wait until now to tell me? She gets really mad when I say she's crazy, but that's the only word I know to describe it. For 20 years Maria never complained or lost her temper. Now all she does is scream and threaten divorce. And she refuses to have sex with me. Is this some kind of punishment?

"So what if I don't tell Maria that she's pretty 20 times a day, call her from work in the middle of the afternoon, or kiss her all the time? I still love her. And I know I'm a good husband. Our marriage is just like my parents' marriage. They moved us to Chicago from Mexico when I was 10, but their relationship was more Latino than American. My dad, an auto mechanic, was the head of the household and my mom stayed home with seven kids. He didn't hold her hand or say 'thank you' -- at least not in front of the kids. I thought that was the way marriage worked. And it does work for them. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary.

"As a husband and father, my main job is to provide for my family. When the kids were young I worked night and day to build my plumbing business. In the past few years, I've hired four employees, so I've cut back to 50 hours a week. I give Maria and the kids whatever they want, so I don't understand why she carries on about going to school and getting a job. Money's not an issue. Besides, if she starts now, she'll be nearly 50 by the time she graduates. What's the point?

"I don't like how much time Maria spends with her friends. She says they just go to restaurants, drink margaritas, and gossip. But I think it's her friends who've given her all these ideas about what's wrong with our marriage. And I'm sure she flirts with men when they go out, because I know Maria. She starts conversations wherever she goes. She says it's normal for 'American women' to be friendly to strangers. Well, it doesn't seem normal to me. I think it's improper behavior for a married woman.

"I have no idea why Maria thinks our marriage is in trouble, but I'm tired of fighting and I don't want to lose her. So I'm willing to give counseling a try."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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