Till death do us part?
She has taken excellent care of him and their family.
She took on the responsibilities of being a homemaker – handling the finances, keeping up the house, cooking the meals, taking the kids to school, ensuring the kids grow up healthy and strong.
It’s a lot of work to make those tasks look easy.
If you ask her, she would say that she did it willingly – knowing that she fulfilled an essential role in the partnership. She took on these responsibilities and chores to ensure the overall well-being of the family.
She’s no saint though and wouldn’t suggest that she is. Just as he has benefitted from her taking on these tasks to free him to pursue other responsibilities for the family, she has benefitted as well.
He appreciated her playing this role and I can tell you without revealing any big secret that he wouldn’t be where he is today without her.
And man oh man … let me tell you – he has come a long way from his humble beginnings.
A lot of our mutual friends have commented for years on what a great relationship it is. A true partnership where they have built a wonderful life together.
Sounds perfect, right?
Early last year, he came to me and said he was re-thinking their relationship. Apparently she isn’t fulfilling his needs any more. Upon pressing him, it goes further than that. He feels that she is actively holding him back from reaching his life goals and objectives.
I can see how that happens after 20 years. Particularly in this fast-changing world we live in.
The problem is that instead of talking to her and figuring out a game plan that they both could live with, he has slowly started making changes in their lives to improve his own situation with no regard to her feelings or her life goals and objectives.
Sure … he has his reasons for these moves ranging from sensical to downright bizarre (such as “other wives are asking for smaller closet space”).
The list of changes goes on and he isn’t done yet. He keeps making these unilateral moves that seem designed to weaken her and strengthen him.
Some of our mutual friends suggest that this all started when he began hanging out with a new crowd of single guys – most of which have not been in a mutually beneficial relationship for any real length of time.
And these new advisors don’t really understand why he can’t do whatever he wants however he wants whenever he wants to achieve his goals. They don’t see why he should have to consult with her – after all, they are *his* goals and dreams and they don’t see why her goals and dreams would impact that.
These guys are great, smart guys but, because of their backgrounds, our group of friends don’t think they have a solid understanding of the mutual benefits of what can be accomplished with a strong partnership and why he still needs her around. They speak the language but they just don’t seem to have the proper perspective.
I mean, let’s face facts here.
I love my buddy but he’s kind of let himself go to pot in a few areas.
He is grossly overweight these days, he smokes like a chimney and has developed a nasty, persistent cough. Even more dangerous to his future well-being, he’s never been a believer in keeping current on anything.
Don’t get me wrong – he’s a great guy in a lot of areas and has a lot to offer but I think he needs to do an honest assessment. And part of that assessment will show that she has been a key part of helping him succeed in spite of any perceived short-comings. And I would guess that she is critical to acheiving his new ambitions as well.
And what about her?
Well … it’s true that she has let herself get a little complacent over the years. She settled in to a comfortable rut and seems pretty happy with the status quo even though the world around her is changing (although she doesn’t like to hear that).
Putting that aside, she is still fit, looking great and sharp as a tack.
A lot of guys would love to be in a relationship with her and she regularly gets propositioned out of the blue. (I’m not suggesting these other guys are any better than my friend but the excitement of the pursuit and the chance of something new and better is very appealing to her.)
I don’t think he or his single friends that have not have a long-term partnership experience have thought that through all the way.
And with all the changes that he has been forcing upon her, she has become extremely uncertain about their future together. I’m sure that he’s heard it same as me – she is beginning to respond to some of the overtures and is flirting around with other guys. It’s just a matter of time before she does something irreversible.
Putting all that aside, I’m worried about their kids. I asked him point blank about this – what is he going to do about their kids they’ve had together?
He was pretty clear that he feels that they are his kids – not hers. That was shocking to me.
I’ve been to their family functions. They have a LOT of kids together. Some of the kids love their mom deeply. And, for sure, some love dad better. Regardless, the kids are going to be effected by these changes and I’m not sure it will turn out the way he thinks.
I guess we’ll see.
One thing is for certain though – if things keep going the way that they have been, it’s unlikely that she is going to have any more kids with him. As I said, odds are that she’ll be taking up with another guy and probably wind up with kids with her new man.
Look – I’m not naïve about the difficulties of marriage. I completely understand my buddy’s fear of the future and his desire to change in response to what he sees coming. I get it.
But … I think he’s going about it all wrong. Because he hasn’t had the courage to sit down and talk with his wife about his fears and his goals, he is risking losing her completely.
Putting all appearances aside based on his actions, I know he truly doesn’t want that. Ok, he may not love her like he used to but he is the first one to admit that he still needs her to keep up the household and take care of the kids so they are happy and healthy.
(As an aside, I get the sense that he doesn’t understand exactly how much work it is to keep the current set of kids happy and healthy. He thinks she should be cranking out new ones all the time and can’t understand how she can have a fulfilling life without a regular batch of new kids. It seems to me that there is a lot of work just taking care of existing kids and plenty of opportunities to nurture them but I’m not sure he understands or believes.)
Do things need to change for both of them to have a prosperous, happy future? Yes. Absolutely. No doubt about it. Both sides will need to change and adapt to the current realities.
My recommendation to my friend is pretty simple: sit down face-to-face and plan a future together … or expect a future apart.
And don’t just talk.
Listen too. And be prepared to change your plans based on what you hear.
It’s simply not reasonable to re-define the relationship at this stage without any consideration to her dreams and goals.
Bare minimum, he has to understand that adopting a policy of steadily changing the rules without explaining or discussing them makes him seem insensitive, irrational and irresponsible. It really paints him in a bad light to her and to all their mutual friends and to the kids.
Personally, I wouldn’t treat anyone like that – particularly someone that has stood by me for years. I think it shows a serious lack of character on my friend’s part and it flies in the face of the great guy that I know he is and strives to be.
Either way, I can guarantee that if he keeps acting as if her views don’t matter, she will leave him. Soon.
I hope that doesn’t happen. I believe strongly that the two of them can achieve more by staying and working together than they can by drifting apart.
The ball is in his court now. Let’s see what he does with it.
For all I know, maybe he really doesn’t care. Maybe he has grown set on succeeding without her?
If you have any advice for the troubled couple, please share it below.