No longer feeling like a priority
Dear Annie: As much as I hate to admit it, I think about divorce practically every day. Divorce, however, isn’t something I want. What I want is for my husband to understand my point of view — which is why I’m writing this letter. He reads your column religiously. Maybe my words will sink in when he reads them here rather than hearing them from me time after time.
Telling him how I feel has resulted in absolutely no change in his attitude. In some ways, it only made things worse. Everything becomes my fault. After being married to my husband for nearly 24 years, I’m tired of feeling like I’m no longer on his priority list. (Sadly, I know this is the case for many other wives out there.)
Gone are the days of feeling loved, cherished, protected and taken care of. The overwhelming feeling now is that of being taken for granted. Gone are the days of receiving heartfelt tokens of affection like a note, kiss on the forehead, comforting hug or a bouquet of wildflowers picked just for me. Now, I can hardly have a conversation with him without being met with a sexual innuendo reply.
Gone, too, are the days when he’d help with household chores so that it wasn’t all on my shoulders. My husband is at that age now where he no longer has to work. He is able to do as he pleases all day while I’m still working full time. Even though he now has all the time in the world to help with household chores, he chooses not to, leaving it up to me to do on the weekends.
I’m not sure what to do. Every time I bring it up, nothing changes. I’m made out to be the bad person. I’m not perfect, by any means, but I do still treat him much the same as I always have: with respect, unconditional love and support. I hope that I would deserve the same. The more he changes, though, the less love and respect I feel for him. — Taken for Granted
Dear Taken: It’s not just many wives but also plenty of husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends who have felt taken for granted. In fact, I’d say the No. 1 threat to long-term relationships is not becoming interested in other people but becoming uninterested in each other. Your husband reading this in my newspaper column isn’t going to be the true breakthrough your marriage needs. However, you might be onto something with seeking another medium for your message. In this case, I think the best format would be marriage counseling. An objective third party can offer your husband perspective he might not be willing to hear from you. Plus, it will offer you insights into your own behavior you might not be expecting. Tell your husband how important it is to you that you go to counseling together, that you feel the health of your marriage depends on it.
Dear Annie: I just read the question from “Bad Mom.” I, too, was trapped in the cruel cycle of addiction. I benefited from the support of the fellowship in Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous multiple times only to relapse. For me to break free from substance abuse as a coping mechanism required professional counseling. There I learned how to begin to resolve deep-seated psychological issues. The disease of addiction needs to be addressed on four levels — physiological, psychological, sociological and spiritual. It sounds as though “Bad Mom,” who was able to get clean and sober in the past, is aware of the physical aspects of addiction and likely received social and spiritual support through her church family. Perhaps the advice that she doesn’t already know is that time working with a therapist could give her the ability to forgive herself for the person she’s been. From there, she could finally benefit from the support of NA, AA and church groups, as it has for me. — Been There
Dear Been There: So well said. Thank you for outlining this four-pronged approach to recovery.