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August 20, 2022

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hollandparkJune 9, 2016

Dear husband who wrote this letter-- My hat is off to you. We heard repeatedly from our therapist here that it is your wife's 'pain' that is driving her actions and words. That may be, but it may be just plain selfishness and self-centeredness. Many women who were getting all their 'Narcissistic-supply' (attention,validation, adulation) from co-workers, clients and customers flip when they stop working. On the bright side, if you can do all the many things this therapist has suggested you do, with kindness, and without losing your cool (or your mind) you will be ready for being translated when you're done and will be quite the catch---for her, if she comes to her senses or for some other deserving woman who would love to have somebody be able to do all you've been advised to do. Good luck. You will need it.

Edith WhertonJune 3, 2016

The husband says identity crisis. The columnist,without meeting her says she may be confused. The husband also says they have been in counseling several times. Sounds to me like the husband just doesnt get it. She says that she doesnt enjoy sex and that she is only going through the motions. Thats quite the low blow. That doessnt come out of nowhere.. After couseling several times and still she wants out should tell him something. It tells me he isnt listening and hasnt listened for years. Then theire was his comment about the adult children. Sounds like emotional blackmail on his part. It takes two to tango. It may sound like he is asking for advice but to me it sounds as though he is blaming her for all the trouble. If she stays ,he should know its because at her age it may be just too much trouble to start again on her own. Iknow if i was married to someone as controlling as he appears I would have been long gone. I dont think much of a man who would post relationship problems in public. The fact that he calls it an identity crisis makes him sound belittling. I wish her happiness. If it turns out to be NOT with him... oh well. This may sound callous and i am sure there will criticism of me and my opinion. And yes marriage should be an eternal perspective; sadly that isnt always the case

DeAnna Murphy, MS, SSCCJune 3, 2016

What I love about what you said is the idea of stepping back and stepping into her shoes, her view, with empathy and compassion. And may I add something to consider as well, from the perspective of a middle-aged woman? I would love to also gently suggest that there may be an additional deeper root. When a woman struggles to appreciate someone else, particularly at a time of deep identity crisis, the deeper issue often is that she may not know how to appreciate herself. She may feel a loss of purpose or perspective about her own worth, given that her contribution may feel diminished (in this case, by her retirement). We women often define our value by the way in which we connect and positively impact others lives--at home, at work, and at other places. When we experience disconnection in one of those places, it can have an unconscious rebound effect, and leave us feeling disconnected in other places as well. If we are not aware of what is happening, we may start to assign blame to external things or relationships, particularly those closest to us, whom we most desire to be connected to. It is easy to do this with those whom we have trusted the most--strange as that sounds, because it is safe. I might offer one more thing, which may seem peculiar to some: it may be possible, indeed highly probably, that the strengths of this wife are involved in the expectations she holds of her husband. One more interesting universal truth is that whatever strengths we, ourselves, hold, they become like a contact lens on our eye through which we view other people and the world. For example, if she has high empathy and is able to discern others' needs and feelings, she may unconsciously believe that the "right" way to be in relationship with others is to notice and act upon their needs. She may project this expectation on her unsuspecting husband, who may not be as innately empathic as she is. He may, instead, try to love her by doing things with her, because his strengths are about executing, getting things done. And she may not even recognize this as his way of loving her. Her conclusion: she does not appreciate him. Which is true! After all, your ability to appreciate others is equivalent to your ability to appreciate yourself. When a woman understands her own strengths, and is clear about their impact, and her purpose in using them, she can find peace and comfort in any relationship or circumstance. By the same token, when a husband understands his strengths (and his wife's), and recognizes her desired contributions, and the needs that are connected to those strengths, he is more able to adjust his behavior to meet her where she is. There is great power in appreciating oneself, in order to more humbly and openly appreciate and receive others. It may be that BOTH spouse could benefit from this! Just my opinion, for whatever it might be worth!

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