Dear Amy: I’m a 41-year-old man. My wife is 34.
We’ve been married for 15 years. We have two children, ages 14 and eight.
Our marriage has been difficult, mainly due to my PTSD from Iraq and an opioid addiction. Once I got sober, I shut out the world.
I was an avoidant parent.
My wife stuck with me through all of this, but 18 months ago she confessed to a short-lived affair.
We’ve decided to reconcile. I’ve since changed as far as being avoidant, she’s changed and made great efforts, but I’m so profoundly affected by her affair that I tend to get stuck and have a hard time getting through the day without being angry or sad.
I know I was a crappy husband. She wasn’t perfect either, but this whole thing about her stepping out of that marriage is crushing.
I’m trying to forgive, she’s working hard on everything, and yet I often feel very empty and lonely, as well as angry.
We’ve had counseling for about 14 months, but I feel like I need to find healing for me, not just the marriage.
I’m finding it very difficult. Any advice?
Dear J: You are objectively presenting your own challenges and the extreme impact – over many years – on your family. Your wife stuck with you throughout this ordeal. She doesn’t seem to be blaming you for your own extreme challenges, and you seem to be trying very hard not to blame her for hers.
You definitely need healing – for you. You don’t mention what, if any, treatment you’ve had for your PTSD, but I urge you to start, continue, or resume treatment. Ideally this would involve talk therapy with a counselor trained in working with servicemembers. Loneliness, emptiness, sadness, isolation, and especially anger are all residual effects of PTSD, and private as well as group counseling with other veterans would help you to continue to heal.
I hope you can see this healing as a process for all of you. And it will take time.
To me, you seem like a fierce and resilient survivor. I hope you can learn to see yourself that way, too.
You can connect with local services for veterans by going through the VA. You can also get immediate help by dialing 988 and pressing 1 to contact the Veterans Crisis Line. A counselor would guide you through the process of finding the best support for you.
(Veterans may still reach the Veterans Crisis Line with the previous phone number: 800-273-8255 and press 1, by text at 838255, and through chat on the website: VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat).
Dear Amy: I am a man in mid-life. My wife and I get along very well and co-parent our three children.
My wife keeps busy outside of our jobs and family life with friends and occasional pickleball matches. She seems to be thriving.
Me? Not that much.
I’m deep into the blahs, and I’m not sure what to do about it. My friends and I don’t seem to jell with each other the way my wife and her friends do.
I’m looking for ideas on how to enhance my life.
– In the Blahs in Mid-life
Dear Blahs: I prescribe regular exercise, whether it is on your own or with a group. If you sing or play an instrument, a “dad band” might be a fun diversion. Check social media for posting.
Pickleball is all the rage for a reason. It’s fun, fairly easy to play, and if you’re with the right group that isn’t too crazily competitive, it will get your heart racing without being too stressful.
You and your wife might not be able to play mixed-doubles because of your parenting duties, but you should look into whether this sport could help to pull you out of your blahs.
Dear Amy: Responding to “Controlled Husband,” many years ago, about a month into my father’s retirement (when we were all sitting down at the dinner table) my mother said, “Honey, I married you for better or worse. But not for lunch.
I want you to go to your studio, (he was an artist), for at least four hours a day. I don’t care what you do there. Read the paper, paint, have an affair. anything. Just please get out of the kitchen.”
– Fond Daughter
Dear Daughter: I felt so sorry for this retired man, whose wife was insisting that he stay out of the house for most of the day. I assume your mother’s message was well-received and helpful.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)