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ASK AMY

Spouse sees marriage consumed by differences

Q. When I married my lovely wife, one of the reasons I wanted to spend my life with her was that I valued her intelligence. Now, many years later, I can’t mention the latest pandemic news, or anything else for that matter, without her going ballistic if it doesn’t support what the (outgoing) president is espousing in his latest tweets.

She believes that anything reported in the mainstream media (especially the newspapers, which she totally despises) is a lie. This leaves very little for a person who has no political affiliation to talk to her about. It is also very tough to get her to go along with many of the COVID-19 safety guidelines.

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She also wants to relocate from a very nice area — and the community I have lived in all my life — because she feels the state government is too liberal.

I am feeling pretty lost right now. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

LOST IN CALIFORNIA

A. Without judging your wife’s intelligence or political opinions, it is obvious that you two are at a relationship impasse.

When she talks about moving and leaving the state, is she really talking about leaving you? It undoubtedly feels that way to you.

Couples on opposite ends of the political spectrum can have healthy relationships as long as each recognizes the other’s point of view and tries to understand their rationale for their viewpoint. Have your wife’s overall views toward the world changed, and if so, can she explain when this happened, and why?

Without offering kneejerk and defensive reactions to one another, you — and she — might find a sliver of common ground upon which to rebuild. And then you both can revert to the age-old wisdom of picking your battles wisely.

Marriage counseling could help you to communicate more effectively about your problems, including discussing the direction you each see your lives taking.

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Her reaction to the idea of meeting with a counselor would reveal the extent of her commitment to moving your marriage back toward the center of your lives.


Q. My close friend “Marcia” is in her early 60s. She has been seeing “Brad” off and on for many years. Unfortunately, Brad has a violent temper. The two of them could be floating along in Loveland, and then he will lose it, push her, yell at her, slam out of the house — and she will be terrified.

Months or even a year will go by, and then they will get back together. Brad apologizes, Marcia rationalizes his behavior, and then she pretends he’s the perfect man. Until he loses it again.

As her friend, if I express my concern, she ignores my comments and then slowly cuts herself off from me.

She is hypercritical of the men I date. She tells me I could do better.

Should I just give up? I don’t feel like this is a true friendship anymore. Advice?

LOYAL, BUT LOST

A. I wonder if you have ever described this pattern of your friendship’s ups and downs to “Marcia.” It might inspire her to see more clearly how her relationship with “Brad” impacts the rest of her friendships.

She is criticizing the men you see because deflecting is the easiest way for her to cope with the impact of her choices. She withdraws because she has low self-esteem, she is embarrassed, and she cannot face you. Brad might also be pressuring her to isolate from you.

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When a loved one is embroiled in an abusive relationship, the fallout is depressing, as well as exhausting.

I hope you will see through her negative behavior, and simply try your very hardest to be compassionate, patient, and supportive. Urge her to see a counselor.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) offers a number of helpful suggestions for ways to support someone in an abusive relationship.


Q. “Concerned” reported that her very close friend had recently suffered the loss of her own dear friend, a married man who Concerned suspected was more than “just a friend.”

You encouraged Concerned to dive in and try to figure out the nature of this relationship. Amy, it is none of her business!

UPSET

A. “Concerned” was genuinely worried about the extreme grief her friend was experiencing over this recent death.

She reported that her friend seemed to want to talk about the nature of the relationship. Because of that, I encouraged Concerned to remain open and available to discuss it, without judgment.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.