Where to Look for Love After 42 Years TogetherBy Nicholas Pollak @ 6:00 AM May 07, 2012
Nicholas D. Pollak
I was contacted recently by a couple in their 60s who needed help because the husband had just retired. They were having trouble adjusting new circumstances.
Three days a week, they babysat their 2-year-old grandchild since their daughter worked at a nearby hospital. As a further complication, the husband’s mother had just died, and now their home was cluttered with furniture and numerous objects that had belonged to her.
The wife likes to maintain a tidy house, and she was feeling overwhelmed by the stuff her husband had brought in.
It stressed her, offended her sense of neatness and order, and the stuff always was in the way. So upset, she called her husband a hoarder and directed him watch a television show about hoarders.
The husband is a recovering alcoholic of 22 years and he would lose his temper. He never could do anything without his controlling wife stepping in the way. He wanted to build a gazebo on a hill behind his house so they could enjoy the beautiful view. No, she said. It was not safe for him to do that. End of project. She was happy, he was not. He wanted to ride his Harley. Not safe, she ruled, because of his gimpy knee.
He was relegated to an armchair at home in an effort to stay out of his wife’s way.
They loved each other, and she was terrified of anything happening to him. There he sat, motionless, more frustrated every day.
She continued her routine as if he were not there. So locked into her daily routine was she that the husband began to wander why he was even married to her. She ignored him except in the evenings when he normally would return from work.
Careful What You Wish?
Finally, he was in position to pursue activities he had yearned to do all his life, except he was in an untenable position. His wife did not want to acknowledge he was home all day.
They were headed for disaster.
I spoke to each spouse separately and then as a couple, pointing out the difficulties they would face unless they started to change how they treated each other.
The husband spoke out inferentially and took in information literally, the wife the opposite. Their communication should have been excellent. But neither understood a what the other was saying.
Assets Are a Two-Way Street
They were opposites, and that was what attracted them in the beginning. After 42 years, though, the oppositeness caused them to argue more than usual.
Neither could remember the last time he or she said, “I love you.” Vigorously, they affirmed their love for their spouse. As a baby step, I suggested that twice a day tghey could say, “I love you.” They agreed.
Next we talked about how to have both of them doing things that would be constructive, either individually or together. Even though they were individuals, I told them they could still do some things separately, some together. They were to discuss their plans the next day.
They were to ensure that each one understood what the other had planned and to be available when they were to do something together.
If a rocky day were encountered, each would communicate to the other. Once they truly knew what was expected by each other, they were to set to go about their day.
This worked. They began to accomplish more together. Neither felt resentful.. They sorted through through the mother-in-law stuff. Together they built the gazebo the husband wanted. They learned to enjoy each other’s company, and they rediscovered their mutual love.