Wife's too Busy for Love
Q: I'm 34 and have been married nine years and have two children. My wife and I both work full-time. For the past year or so she has been working long hours and is very stressed to the point where it's taking a toll on me. We do not have sex as much as we used to, and when we do, it's about as exciting as going to a funeral. The affection throughout the day is non-existent. If I get a phone call or email from her its because something is wrong. I feel more like a business partner than a lover with her. I have tried talking to her about this a few times and it helps for about a week and then everything reverts back. I'm beginning to feel as though she just doesn't love me anymore, no matter what she claims. I wonder if I should end things and find someone to provide me with the attention and affection that I need. -- Mike
Dr. Susan: Don't give up yet, Mike. If talking to your wife helps for a week, then all is not hopeless. Make a point of having that talk on a weekly basis. Since her work hours are so long, perhaps you could make a superhuman effort to share the responsibility for getting this marriage back on track. Here's what I suggest: take over a few more of the household and childcare duties and do them conscientiously and without resentment. Tell her you're doing this in hopes that this will free her up to take more time for herself. Because that's what working moms often miss the most. It would be most loving of you, and when she feels you're willing to go out of your way for her, she's much more likely to want to show her warm feelings for you. Right now I suspect she feels your desire for affection is just one more thing on her overwhelming "to-do" list. I also recommend that the two of you make some time to plan the future. If you both value your relationship and want to provide a good role model for your kids, think through your options for cutting down on those monstrously stressful work hours. You're both on a no-win treadmill now. And no, I don't think you should find someone else. That will only complicate everyone's life. Instead, give more and you'll probably get more.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.