Older Wife Has Cooled
Q: My wife and I met on the Internet when she was 40 and I was 20 (I'm 23 now). We had a strong connection and even more so in person. However, she talked about her recent ex-boyfriend daily back then. I told her this made me uncomfortable but she continued anyway. Eventually this died down but soon afterwards, I came across letters (unsent) of how she felt for him and wanted to have a child with him. She told me that they were old and must have been left there by accident. Recently she has been calling out his name along with the names of other exes in her dreams. She says that this is due to the fact that I get upset around the subject of her experiences and that the stress is causing her to have these dreams.
We have not been intimate in over 6 months since getting married and she refuses to cuddle or hug or tell me she loves me. I realize that because of the age difference she has had more experience in relationships, but I truly feel as though I gave her all my energy, time and money and was seen as nothing more than a convenient partner. She says this is not the case. Can this marriage be saved? -- Lance
Dr. Susan: You two have some huge obstacles to overcome in this marriage, but it's usually not impossible if both people are willing to make the effort -- including lots of frank talking. You seem to have lost trust in her because she's become unaffectionate with you since your marriage, and also because she seems to be hiding some of her true feelings. The first thing you have to do is find out what's going on. Is she angry at you because you're pressuring her to act as though she doesn't have a past? Are you making her feel guilty for her experience level? Have you, in anger, ever called her names due to your own insecurity? If you've been as patient and loving as ever, and she's simply stopped acting as though she cares for you, it's possible that she is still carrying a torch for someone else, and maybe figured that marrying you would help her forget him. From the way you're telling it, I'm beginning to think she's using her "experience" with relationships to pull the wool over your eyes. Hold off on all accusations for now and be as loving as you can be. If she refuses to even say whether she loves you, though, that doesn't sound like much of a marriage.
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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.