"He's Threatened by My Success"

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His Turn

"If Linda accuses me of resenting her success one more time, I'm going to scream," said Josh, 48, his voice rising in anger. "It's her mantra but it's simply not true. I don't begrudge my wife her big salary. I don't complain about her business travel. To Linda's credit, she's never pressured me to find a more lucrative occupation, and I'm grateful to her for encouraging me to return to music.

"Linda misreads as resentment what in fact is my own ambivalence about my career. I love making music, but I hate the low pay and instability of being a professional musician. In most fields income is linked to education and experience. It bugs me that I still don't earn enough to support us, even though I hold a master's degree and have been a professional musician for 30 years.

"I'm the youngest of three sons -- one brother was 13 years older, the other nine years older. I felt hostility from them because my mother doted on me. My dad alternately ignored and criticized me. I felt like an outcast, with Mom as my lone ally.

"I started piano lessons at 7. I became proficient very quickly and by junior high took up the French horn and guitar. Setting my sights on a music career, I concentrated on the piano in college. After graduation I spent three years as a principal pianist with a regional symphony.

"I felt I needed more training, so at 25, I moved to New York, studied for three years with a renowned pianist, supported myself with gigs around town, and auditioned for a prestigious graduate program. By the time I finished my master's, at 30, I feared I'd never have a steady income. That's when I enrolled in vocational school to learn plumbing. I joined my father's company, where I earned a decent wage and had health benefits. But I hated working for my dad, whose habit of criticizing everything I did had not changed an iota.

"I knew I wanted to marry Linda almost from the first moment I met her. Not only is she an auburn-haired beauty with a megawatt smile but she is also intelligent, funny, and interesting. But she and I have different views of marriage, especially when it comes to sex and child rearing. I want an active sex life, with more variety. I also want her to initiate sex, which she has never done. Now she has become cold, which makes me sad. Would it kill her to cuddle on the couch while we watch a movie?

"As for parenting, Linda has to be right about everything. She's so determined to be Audrey's favorite that she gives her anything her heart desires and tolerates her smart mouth and disrespect. But I call Audrey on that stuff, which provokes an argument between us, which then puts me at odds with Linda, whose concept of discipline is different from mine. She either accuses me of acting like a child when I argue with Audrey or says I'm overreacting if I send Audrey to her room or cut off TV privileges.

"I admit I behaved badly on the flight to Seattle. Although I've repeatedly apologized, Linda reminds me of this incident every chance she gets. Why can't she let it go?

"I wish Linda and I communicated better. We established a bad pattern as newlyweds and unfortunately it has continued to this day. We're so angry that we never have interesting discussions anymore, and we've dropped our weekly lunch date. I still love Linda, in spite of our problems. I'd just like to get to the bottom of what's wrong between us."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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