Stop fight­ing, start talk­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PAUSE & PLAY - Ellie Tesher

Q - I’m a man, 45, in a 20-year re­la­tion­ship, with two sons ages six and 12. My com­mon-law spouse is 43.

She re­cently de­cided af­ter a stupid fight that she needs space, wants to be sin­gle for some time, and feels her life’s in a rut.

I’d been in­creas­ingly sick for ten years with an un­known tu­mour, fi­nally dis­cov­ered and re­moved last De­cem­ber.

Now that I feel bet­ter, she dumps this on me and blames 1) that I fight with her mother - though she in­sisted we move last year to a house her mother owns (we’ve never got­ten along).

2) She blames me for trou­ble with renters in our old house, though she made the deal.

She says that she’d felt like be­ing sin­gle be­fore the tu­mour was found, but then felt sorry for me.

I’m self-em­ployed, earn­ing a third of what she does. Yet she com­plains that she never has any money be­cause she pays most bills. But I cover car in­sur­ance, food, rent, and bought both ve­hi­cles.

There wasn’t much sex while I was ill. She says that’s my ex­cuse.

She spends many nights out with girl­friends, mostly from work, and doesn’t in­clude me.

There’s one sep­a­rated guy I was con­cerned about, as they all drank at his house and spent nights, and they’re ap­par­ently real close.

But she swears there’s noth­ing go­ing on there.

So I just don’t get it that she’s dump­ing me now that I’m no longer sick.

I’ve never lost feel­ing for her and she knows it.

Lost and De­pressed

A - Al­most all re­la­tion­ship sto­ries that come to me, like yours, are one-sided tales.

But there are clear sig­nals in the de­tails — a sick hus­band (not your fault), bick­er­ing, and in­come dif­fer­ences. And then, a ma­jor change to your re­newed health. Sur­pris­ingly, even good news like that takes ad­just­ment.

What mat­ters now, is not, how can she do this. In­stead, it’s about what else can you two do to try to keep the fam­ily to­gether? That dis­cus­sion needs coun­selling guid­ance for you to hear and un­der­stand each other.

Yes, she may’ve been at­tracted to some­one else. And yes, your pro­tracted ill­ness may’ve worn her down.

But a se­ri­ous look is needed, in­clud­ing le­gal re­al­i­ties, at how this will af­fect your chil­dren, your roles as par­ents, and your lifestyles, if apart.

Stop fight­ing and start talk­ing.

Q -I fear that my friend from univer­sity is now liv­ing dan­ger­ously. She’s late-30s, mar­ried, goes on a dat­ing app re­lated to a sex­ual fetish.

She’s talk­ing to ran­dom men when her hus­band’s at work and kids are at school.

Re­cently, she con­fided that she’s hooked up with two dif­fer­ent men so far.

Her mar­riage is cold but “suc­cess­ful” at rais­ing their four kids, and eco­nom­i­cally, too.

I don’t ap­prove of her be­hav­iour but be­lieve I’m the only per­son she can tell.

She’s al­ways been the risky one be­tween us.

Now I worry about her but feel if I speak up, sheíll re­sent me for be­ing judg­men­tal, and carry on till some­thing bad hap­pens.

Very Con­cerned

A - If you don’t speak up and “bad” hap­pens, how will you feel then?

There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween judg­ment and con­cern. She al­ready knows that you don’t ap­prove.

More im­por­tant, you care about her.

Also, you can stand back and see the po­ten­tial dan­gers of her meet­ing strangers.

While she’s fo­cused only on es­capism, you’re con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­ble con­se­quences re­gard­ing her phys­i­cal safety, up­heaval to her chil­dren’s lives, and how her mar­riage will im­plode pub­licly. Speak up.

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