"I Lost My Job and He Doesn't Even Care"

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His Turn

"Ilene has changed so much," says Ken, 48, a soft-spoken administrator at a government housing agency. "It's as if she's lost her rudder. She spends most of the day watching TV and talking on the phone to her sisters.

"The old Ilene was outgoing and warm -- a people person. I feel terrible about her losing her job and I've tried to help. She knows I'm not a touchy-feely kind of guy, but what she didn't say is that she ignores my advice. I suggested going back to school, perhaps to study library science or some area of healthcare. She insists schooling will take too long and she'll be an unemployable old lady when she gets out. I tell her to at least get out of the house, do volunteer work, get together with friends. She never does that, either. The truth is, I have no idea what she should do. She has to figure that one out for herself.

"What I do know is that our arguments are awful. If I didn't cut her off, she'd go on and on for hours about the same thing. It drives me nuts. When she launches into one of her tirades, I don't know how to answer her, so most of the time I don't answer her at all. That just seems to make her angrier.

"She also seems convinced that because I love my daughter I can't love her. That's crazy. My poor daughter lost her mother when she was 3 years old! Of course I bend over backward to make her feel loved! How can Ilene possibly be jealous of that? As for the phone incident, I have no idea what happened. I thought I was doing the right thing by taking Heather out of the house so they could both calm down. Ilene saw that as traitorous. Well, I'm not a traitor and I'm not a terrible father to Adam because I refuse to excuse his poor grades. Ilene coddles him. His school has a top-notch reputation and the discipline and high standards are good for him.

"I'm not used to all this fighting. My parents rarely uttered a cross word to each other. We had a quiet life in Indiana on our family farm. I went to the state university and majored in communications. After college I moved to Indianapolis, where I worked for a real estate developer for nine years. That's where I met my first wife. After she died I didn't feel like staying in Indiana anymore. It was a terrible time. When a friend told me about job openings out West, I decided to give it a try.

"I met Ilene shortly after Heather and I moved out here. We worked in the same office complex and every time I saw her she was surrounded by people, chatting and laughing. I'm pretty introverted, and her enthusiasm and joy were irresistible. I felt myself coming back to life just being around her. To this day I'm convinced that people say hello to me in the halls because I'm married to her.

"For a long time we had a good marriage. Now we go to bed angry and wake up angry. I don't know what I'm going to do if Ilene doesn't snap out of this funk."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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