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Amy: Couple in trouble gave up too soon

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • August 26, 2013 - 3:22 PM

Dear Amy: My wife and I were friends for several years and then dated and lived together before getting married.

We had trouble getting pregnant and suffered a few miscarriages. We finally had a baby last summer and soon found out he had a heart problem and needed surgery (at 2 weeks old).

His health recovered. After this, my wife’s attention was drawn toward our son, and I found pleasure hanging out with friends. Our marriage became robotic and loveless. We separated last winter.

We reconciled one time to see if our loving feelings had returned. I realized how much I missed and loved her. She said she loved me but was not in love with me. This is hard to hear, and it’s even harder not seeing my child every day.

It has been several months now. We have a separation agreement. Our house is sold. We are amicable and talk often, but I can’t get over the hump of needing her back. I don’t know what to do, and nothing fills this giant void in my life.

She has told me she has been on a few dates, and so have I — but nothing is working. Should I spill my feelings to her? I tried this four months ago, but my feelings were not returned.

Amy says: You and your wife gave up on your marriage very quickly. According to your letter, your baby was only a few months old when you two chose to separate.

Couples who have been together for a long time say the key to staying together is to work as a team toward the greater good, tolerating some tough (even tragic) times to grow together and work toward a mature kind of union.

Everything you report (pulling away, etc. after the trauma of your son’s illness) seems a natural reaction to a challenging time. This is survivable, but you can’t repair a relationship when you’re on the fast track to dissolution. Furthermore, after splitting up, you both go out on a few dates and are shocked that “nothing is working”?

In life, you don’t get instant satisfaction. You work. You grow. You take the long view. You do not fill a giant void with dates. You fill the void with self-actualization. Of course you should be honest with your wife. Ask her to join you in relationship counseling. If she won’t go, attend on your own.

Work is a slog

Dear Amy: I hate to work and always have. I have a responsible professional position, dealing with an issue I care deeply about. I work with truly wonderful people. I fulfill all of my responsibilities, but I have to force myself to do everything. The same is true for work around the house, etc.

My question is: Does everyone have to take a deep breath and force their way through every minute of every day? I see other people who seem to enjoy what they do or at least do not resent it.

Amy says: You know the saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”? People (like me) who truly love their work generally look forward to doing it, even if we have to take a deep breath before starting a task. Most people don’t need to deep-breathe their way through every single effort.

My first suggestion is for you to get a full medical checkup to see if you have a thyroid (or other medical) problem that might cause low energy. You should also be evaluated for depression. If so, treatment would give you more energy and improve your outlook.

Otherwise, thinking of tasks in small bites might help you to get started — and also will create a satisfying sense of accomplishment. You don’t say if there is anything in the world for which you do enjoy expending effort. If so, you can use activities you enjoy (even if your activity is actually inactivity) as motivators to get through the day.

I’ll run additional suggestions from readers.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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