Selfish Wife Distresses Him

Q: After 54 years of marriage, my wife and I were on a 10-day cruise. After five days I ran out of cash, and since my wife had taken $800 with her, I asked her if I could borrow $50. When we got back to our cabin she told me she wants her money back--NOW! When I explained I only had $50 to give her, leaving me broke, she got loud and verbally abusive, saying, "I want my money now!" I've paid her way for 50+ years, never asking, let alone demanding, for my money back at all.

What's with this? Should I end the marriage? I've often felt she has had previous indiscretions, though they were never proved. Seems like she's only caring about herself. Could it be that she has someone on the side and feels comfortable challenging me like this? --Jim, 75

Dr. Susan: Your wife's behavior on the cruise sounds irrational, abusive, and bizarre. Is this the first time you've been aware of her behaving selfishly or being abusive to you verbally? Let's put aside your suspicions of what she may have done long ago and focus on right now. If this odd behavior is new, she could be losing her cognitive abilities. Mild cognitive impairment isn't uncommon as people age, and sometimes it shows up in personality changes. Before you do anything as drastic as filing for divorce, why don't the two of you see a doctor? You might mention quietly to the doctor or nurse that you have concerns about your wife's odd new behavior and you'd like her mental status to be checked.

I find it unlikely that your wife has someone on the side at this point. She may be selfish and it's only now becoming obvious to you. Take notes on any other weird behavior you notice and discuss it with her or a third party. Be sure you don't let your mistrust of her past influence how you see her today.

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