Ask Amy: Unhappy husband seeks to heal heartache
Dear Amy: I’ve been married for 30 years. Most of this time, I’ve been unhappy.
I’ve experienced love in the past. Before my marriage I had my heart broken twice.
I just could not allow myself to go through that pain again. Therefore, I married a woman who was a good person, knowing that if she ever left, my heart would not be broken.
This has caused me to have a number of affairs. I’m not proud of that.
When I was single, I had never cheated on any of my girlfriends, but began cheating on my wife after two years of marriage.
The biggest reason I never left my wife was that I could not bear the thought of not seeing my young kids daily (who are now adults), and also the financial struggles divorce would bring.
I now struggle with a different heartache and ask myself — is this the way I want to spend my remaining years? — Unhappy Husband
Dear Unhappy: It is hard to feel sorry for you — the heartsore man who deliberately chose to marry a very nice woman you’ve never loved, because you were so afraid of being hurt.
And yet, I do feel compassion for you. I can imagine that at this point in your life, you might look back and recognize how very cowardly some of your choices have been.
I think, too, of your wife. You don’t have much to say about her, which reveals how sidelined she is.
You are sidelined, too. You seem to have lost track of your emotional core. Your early heartbreak may have traumatized you and stunted your emotional maturing. It’s as if you closed and locked a door.
I assume that as much as you obviously love your children, you also remain somewhat hidden from them. I hope that over the years you have encouraged them to be more emotionally present and brave than you have been.
No, I don’t think this is the way you want to spend your remaining years.
You would definitely benefit from therapy. I’m talking about deep, emotional work with a therapist who specializes in working with men in mid-life.
Unlocking that long-locked door will bring you in closer touch with the authentic man who has been hiding behind his heartache and using infidelity as a remedy and excuse.
Bravely diving into your capacity for intimacy might even unleash genuine feelings for your wife that you have been suppressing.
Dear Amy: As I think about the new year unfolding, my thoughts of a past friendship arise.
I am not sure what I did, or what I said, but back in 2016 a dear friend stopped talking to me.
I tried on several occasions to reconnect, and included apologies, as I was certain that I must have done something to warrant this unexpected rejection.
We became friends back in 1997, but here I am five years after our last contact and still on the outs with this friend.
I am heartbroken over it. I hope and pray that we may connect again one day.
My thinking is that maybe I should write a letter (not email or phone call). Is this a futile step?
I am just wondering if you have any wise words to provide, since you have insight into relationships.
I am not even sure how to start the letter, and I’m afraid of rejection again. — Still Hoping in Friendship
Dear Still Hoping: The worst thing about being ghosted, very suddenly, is that you are left assuming that you have said or done something deeply offensive.
According to you, you have tried several times to get to the bottom of this break. You have issued presumably vague apologies for something you might have done.
But maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s your friend. People who are depressed, overwhelmed, or who feel ashamed sometimes pull away suddenly.
Send your friend an email or letter. Don’t dwell on this silence. Send a newsy missive catching them up on what you’ve been up to. Say, “I think of you often and would love to hear how you are doing. I hope you’ll be in touch.”
Dear Amy: One of your readers wondered if consuming three drinks a night made him an alcoholic.
I can answer firsthand: it does not — until it does.
Drinking with regularity is like gambling — the house always wins. — Recovering in Annapolis, MD
Dear Recovering: What a brilliant response. Congratulations on your own recovery, and thank you for this wisdom.