Fixing a broken marriage
Linda and Doug were on the brink of divorce in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Linda accused Doug of ignoring her, of being lazy and lacking ambition. Doug said Linda was obsessed with her career and ignored their family. Here, they describe how they fixed their marriage.
Linda says the marriage had been loveless for years. Doug, on the other hand, thinks Linda is too demanding and unable to switch off her corporate self.
She's constantly wired, either to her laptop, cell phone, or Blackberry, says Doug. Linda and Doug agreed on big changes to save their marriage.
We live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city of half a million a people, about two hours west of Chicago. It's a pretty good place considering it's in the Midwest.
There are some great eating places, especially Mexican food like La Perla, La Fuente, Cielito Lindo, and Conejitos Place. There're big German and Serbian populations in Milwaukee, too, so those places, Pandl's, Three Brother's, and so on, are pretty good.
Milwaukee isn't New York or San Francisco. It's not an anything-goes city, but it's a good city to live and work. The job market is strong despite the recession. There are some great employers. The health sector is huge with some amazing hospitals like Columbia St. Mary's, Aurora, and Froedtert. I haven't got any complaints on the work front.
What's killing me is my marriage. We've been married 10 years and I've almost had enough. I'm doing real well for myself. I'm a director of a big department in a downtown office. I make good money, more than $200,000 a year.
But my husband Doug, he just stands still. He shows no ambition at all. He's stayed in the same teaching job at the same school for more than 10 years. I make three or four times what he does and that really bugs me. He used to be a guy with a bunch of great ideas, but they all went nowhere. He just drifted into teaching, found an easy niche and stayed there.
There's no spark or romance in our marriage. It's like he doesn't see me. He certainly doesn't see me as an attractive woman. I'm a very physical person. I need to be held and touched. I need to be told I'm loved. And I need to be told I am doing a great job for the family.
I need regular physical intimacy. If I can have that two or three times a week, I'm happy. Right now, I am so dissatisfied. I can't remember the last time Doug took me out for a meal. I go out a lot with girlfriends. Sometimes they bring their husbands along but Doug usually stays at home. I hate him for that.
I feel like grabbing him and shaking him. I want to shout out at him,
Wake up for God's sake, you're ruining our marriage. If you carry on like this there'll be nothing to save.
He really needs to take control of his life. He needs to go out and get some drive and determination/ He needs to appreciate the good things around him: our home, which my salary paid for, his Audi, which I paid for, his $500 shoes, which I paid for. He needs to open his eyes and see he's about to lose me.
There are lots of ambitious guys out there who would love to be with a woman like me. I'm a successful and independent but I also want to be loved and appreciated. I'm sure I could find a great guy in no time at all. But for the moment I'm loyal to my husband. I don't know why, but I hope we can save our marriage.
I know my wife has a great job. That's her big thing,
Look at how well I've done, look at how much money I make, I'm so fantastic, everyone else is a loser.
I'm a teacher, so what? I like my job. I like helping kids to learn the skills that are going to help them later in life. It's fantastic when a kid cracks a difficult math problem. You see the joy in his or her face. I get a big kick out of that. It's true I don't make a lot of money, but should that matter? Is it my fault that teachers are not well paid?
Doug, you need to get out of the public school system. You need to go to Marquette University, get an MBA or a doctorate, work in a private school. She has my whole life mapped out without asking if it's what I want.
I don't want to go into management and admin, I don't want to be a principal, and nor do I want to be at a privileged private school. I want to teach at a public school: that's important to me. If you teach, you accept that the money is never going to be great. But there are other benefits. I get plenty of time to do other things I like.
Linda is so demanding. It's like she never clocks off. She's got this high-powered corporate job and she brings it home with her. She tries to run the home like a bank or office. I'm not allowed to relax. I'm always expected to have some project in the pipeline: tidy the yard, install a hot tub, decorate the basement. Home isn't home if you can't relax.
If Linda wants to get stuff done, if she's not satisfied, she can call a contractor, get them to come in and do whatever it is she thinks is so vital. I'm not going to do it because I like our house the way it is.
She says I am not attracted to her, that I don't touch her. That's just not true. She forgets all the times that I touch her, put my arm around her, try to kiss her. She's only thinking of the times when she wants to be touched and I'm doing something else.
Often, when I get close to her I feel like she's going to bite my head off. I have to be so careful about choosing the right time for physical contact. Linda's really into the right time and the wrong time. I want intimacy to be spontaneous. I don't like to plan. I can't think in terms of,
Tomorrow we're going to do it, next Thursday we're going to have a romantic evening. That's a turn off.
I love physial intimacy and I really miss it. We don't talk about it, perhaps we should. It would be good to let each other know what we need and want.
Linda is a really attractive woman, but I don't like all the other crap around her, the fact she can't relax, the fact the phone rings 25 times an hour, the fact that everything needs to be in perfect order and exactly as planned. That doesn't leave time or space for feeling close. It's like a prison at home.
Linda says she is still considering divorce. That would be sad. We have a lot going for us. Sure I could improve, but I shouldn't have to change totally. Then I wouldn't be Doug anymore, I'd be someone else.
Doug and Linda's action plan
- Seek professional counseling.
- Speak to each other more about personal needs.
- Touch each other and kiss more often.
- Linda has agreed to turn off her cell phone, laptop, and Blackberry one evening a week and spend that time undisturbed with Doug.
- Linda has agreed to a
Doug Decides Daywhere she has to get used to the idea of not being in charge of what's going to happen.
- Once a month to go out for a romantic meal and make love afterwards.
- Set aside time for proper love-making with no interruptions.
- Linda has agreed to wear lingerie in bed for Doug.
- To touch base with each other during the working day.
- Doug has agreed to take on extra responsibilities at school to show his ambition and willingness to progress professionally.
- They have joined a fitness class together which they attend once a week for 45 minutes each session.
- To say
I love youto each other at least once a day.
By Tom Walker