Her Mate Has Changed
Q: My husband turned 60 a little over a year ago. I feel like I am living with a stranger. I have tried talking to him about it but he takes everything as an attack. Any suggestions? -- Sandy, 55
Dr. Susan: People do change, sometimes quite a lot, over time. So it's possible you just started paying attention, and your husband's changes have been accumulating over time. But when someone changes dramatically over a short period of time, you are right to wonder what's going on. My first thought is always that he's having an affair. Second is that he's depressed or ill in some other way that he isn't sharing or doesn't even realize himself.
Be sure that the next time you bring this up (and it should be soon), you speak gently and using only "I-messages." "Honey, I'm wondering if something's going on that is affecting our relationship. I don't feel like I can talk to you like I used to. Are you unhappy? Are you upset with ME for some reason?" That is not an attack. If he remains on the defensive and tries to make you feel crazy for asking, then he might be hiding something. In which case, dig a little deeper. Ask his friends, ask his doctor, see a therapist yourself to figure out how to proceed. Loving husbands don't become strangers overnight (unless it's a night they've been fooling around with someone else).
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.