Q. 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).
Our lives were shattered at the time, but his health recovered. After this, my wife’s attention was drawn toward our son, and I found pleasure hanging out with our friends. Our marriage became pretty 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.
Is this wrong? How do I let go? I am so emotionally confused. 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.
A. 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 an incredibly 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. In life, you get to slog. 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.
Q. Mine is not an earth-shaking problem. I am a widower, and like most of us widows/widowers, the phone quit ringing after my spouse died. Since I am not a great cook, I call couples we used to socialize with to go out for dinner.
When the check comes, I pay; then they pay the next time.
It doesn’t seem to dawn on them that I am paying twice as much to treat them as they do when they pick up the check. Some of them are much better off than I am. I do not want to make this a major issue, but I do go out a lot and tip well. I cannot think of a way to address this tactfully. Can you?
A. This may not seem tactful (enough) to you, but if I were in your group of friends, I’d be absolutely fine hearing the following: “Do you mind if we each pay for our own meal when we go out? I dine out a lot and enjoy it, but it’s getting challenging for me to pick up the tab.”Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.