Friday, January 2, 2015

Salvaging a marriage

On Love and Life After 60

By Thomas P. Blake     January 2, 2015

Salvaging a marriage

Champs often write me seeking advice. When that happens, I am honored, but also know that I must be cautious. I do not want to advise someone to do something that is beyond my scope of expertise. I am not a licensed therapist or counselor.

I am a columnist who has formed opinions based on 20 years of writing about life and love, and hearing from thousands of people, who have shared their relationship experiences and wisdom. Plus, there are always two sides to each story and usually I just hear one side. And rarely are there enough facts to know the entire picture.

When people ask what makes me an expert on senior relationships, I simply say, “Three marriages. Three divorces.”

This week, a man I’ve known for close to 20 years contacted me after he read last week’s article, which stated that people often evaluate their relationships during the December holidays.

He wrote, “My marriage has me concerned. My wife has put on weight. Nine years ago when we met she was much thinner. I love her even with the extra weight, but would like to grow old with her and not worry about her health.

“Also, we don’t get along as well compared to when we were just living together for five years. And she has been dragging her feet about the pre-nuptial agreement we were trying to do before we married a year and a half ago.  

“These things have me so frustrated I wish we were just living together. One of my concerns is what you said to me years ago about protecting one’s heart and one’s money.”

I told him I would ponder his question and get back to him. Before I could respond, he sent a follow-up email.

He said, “She never admits she is wrong, even when I show her. I do lots of things for her as she also does for me. I try to thank her most of the time. But the same is not true with her. I would be happy if she did so once in a while.

“She says she loves me but her words do not translate into actions. And now little things she does are starting to bother me. I don’t have the holiday blues; I think I am just facing reality.”

My response: “The pre-nuptial agreement should have been signed before the marriage, not 18 months after the marriage. She may be dragging her feet now, thinking the marriage is on unstable ground.”

I suggested if he mentions the added weight to her, he should emphasize that it is only because he is concerned about her health. Women aren’t particularly fond of discussing weight-related issues.

I asked him if they loved each other enough to try to salvage the situation and recommended he insist on getting that pre-nuptial agreement signed.

He responded: “Today I will INSIST we sign the post-nup. I am so fed up that I am going to take a while to think hard about a divorce whether she signs it or not.”

Then he responded again the next morning: “I have made up my mind, having analyzed the situation overnight. I am getting a divorce. Forget the post-nup. I would just rather live alone right now. It will be tough but it is the right decision.”

I—feeling a little horrified—said: “Just be sure this is what you really want. I hate to see you get a divorce without the two of you talking it through.”

He: “Yes I am sure. It has been festering with me and the column last Friday caused me to re-access my life and decisions. I just needed to vent to make sure I was thinking straight.”

Me—feeling even more horrified—said: “I do not want to be the one responsible for the breakup.”

He: “Don’t worry, I don’t hold you responsible. The same thing happened when I broke up with another woman years ago; you helped me sort it out. I made both decisions. I go with the flow until it gets to a crossroad where I have to make a big decision. I have known it for a while. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”

He, 14 hours later: “I have decided to insist we go to counseling in order to save our marriage. If she refuses, then we get a divorce.”

Me (relieved): “Yes, go to counseling. Try to talk. Try to work it out. Do your best to salvage the deal.”

And then, the strangest thing happened. This email exchange reminded me of the 1965 Beatles song, “We can work it out.” I was in a relationship back then that had soured and often listened to that song, particularly these lyrics:

Think of what you're saying
You can get it wrong and still
You think that it's all right

Think of what I'm saying
We can work it out and
Get it straight or say good night
We can work it out
We can work it out

Yesterday, New Year’s Day, 2015, he wrote: “We talked last night. She has agreed to get the post-nup completed without me threatening a divorce. She still refuses to go to counseling; I will go by myself.”

Trying to salvage a 10-year relationship instead of going through another heart-wrenching divorce is a much more positive way to start the New Year. Keep talking to each other, old friend. You can work it out.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say women don't say they are sorry as often as men and I am a woman. I think it's because maybe we understand men a little more than they
    understand us. We should make it a point to be kinder to each other...males
    and females alike. A pre- nup to a woman is saying please sign this because
    I don't really think it's going to work anyway. I just starts out negative. Therapy would be good for this couple because it appears that communication is their biggest problem.