My hubby doesn’t mark those spe­cial oc­ca­sions

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­

Q . My hus­band and I have a great re­la­tion­ship; he’s a good fa­ther and a good friend. But he doesn’t show ap­pre­ci­a­tion of me on im­por­tant oc­ca­sions like birth­days, an­niver­saries, etc.

He never gives me a birth­day present or even a card. There are no flow­ers on our an­niver­sary.

I know he loves me, I love him, and our life to­gether is oth­er­wise happy.

How do I get through to him that I need ap­pre­ci­a­tion shown at least on my birth­day?

A. Since you men­tion no other re­la­tion­ship prob­lems — if you have some, you’re han­dling them well — so you must know how gen­er­ally lucky you both are.

So you have two rel­a­tively easy choices: Ei­ther model the be­hav­iour you want to see.

Or tell him out­right what you want/ need from him.

On his birth­day, have a card wait­ing when he wakes up, and have the chil­dren give him home­made cards. Tell him how great it is to see his smile when he opens them.

An­niver­sary? Buy flow­ers and place them promi­nently. Have a spe­cial din­ner at home or out, and toast the great life you have to­gether, say­ing it war­rants a cel­e­bra­tion.

Hope­fully, he’ll learn. If not, tell him straight up that these ges­tures are im­por­tant to you even if not to him, and to please get on board.

He can’t deal with my grief

Q. I re­turned home from liv­ing overseas when my mother de­vel­oped ad­vanced can­cer.

I re­mained with her. I’m an only child raised by a sin­gle mother, and our bond was ex­traor­di­nar­ily close.

I spent six months with her. It ex­acted a sig­nif­i­cant toll on me men­tally and emo­tion­ally.

My boyfriend of 18 months vis­ited over Christ­mas and pro­posed.

I loved him dearly. We had some prob­lems but from the start we both felt im­me­di­ately con­nected.

Six months after my mother’s pass­ing, I’ve man­aged to deal with her debts, the banks, the cel­e­bra­tion of her life, etc. and re­turned overseas where I lived with my part­ner.

Things be­tween us im­me­di­ately fell apart. I strug­gled with deep grief for 18 months.

I be­gan tak­ing free­lance con­tracts after five months. But he’d al­ready be­gun re­sent­ing me and I felt it.

He didn’t know how to deal with my grief, never en­cour­aged me when I wanted to talk about her, picked fights with me.

As he pulled away when I needed him the most, I felt in­creas­ingly des­per­ate and heart­bro­ken.

He ended things a year ago and I left and found a flat-share.

I suf­fered crip­pling panic at­tacks for the first seven months, now less­en­ing in fre­quency.

I now need some re­as­sur­ance that this re­la­tion­ship was meant to end. I’ve been em­bit­tered, an­gry and aban­doned, far from healed.

What can I do to move on? I can­not imag­ine ever lov­ing some­one again. I’ve lined up a great job op­por­tu­nity that should start soon. I lost the two peo­ple I loved in the same year. But the fact that he chose to leave me has gut­ted me.

A. Deep grief can be trig­gered again by any other loss. You’ve dealt with care­giv­ing, death, to­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity for the af­ter­math, re­lo­ca­tion far away, and loss of job and loss of part­ner.

Grief coun­selling can still help you through your heal­ing process.

A new job is the best fo­cus ahead. It’ll re­vive a sense of your strengths and abil­i­ties.

Your ex wasn’t able to cope be­cause your grief — and you — was un­reach­able. That’s what he left, not the re­la­tion­ship that once was.

Move on. You may want to con­tact him in six months, or not.

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