His wandering eye hurts her feelings, but is it new behavior?
Q: My husband and I have been married for 35 years and get along well. He is very affectionate and complimentary to me, but practically goes into a trance if he sees an attractive woman — even stopping in mid conversation. I've told him it bothers me, but he continues.
I can't tell if he's doing it more or I have just begun to notice. How should I handle this?
Bugged in MI
A: It's hard to pull off without conviction, but the couples least dogged by this problem are willing to acknowledge, openly, mutually and with good cheer, that they still have eyes, no matter how married they are:
Husband: . . . trails off mid-sentence.
Wife: "Yes, she's lovely/hot/your type. You were saying?"
Like I said, it takes conviction.
It's not all on you, though, to be the cool and collected mate. A gawker has an equal responsibility not to be rude — to you or the object of his amorous catatonia — and to show unequivocally that you remain the sole object of his affection. You do suggest you have that.
You also suggest, though, that this behavior may not be new. If it turns out you're just waking up to a long history of disrespectful treatment, then that's a bigger issue demanding bigger remedies, starting with careful thought and possibly good counsel(ing).
If this behavior is a marked change in his personality, and especially if he starts ignoring other societal norms, then please get him in for a full physical. That's standard procedure for any major behavioral shift.
When looking for a husband is like Christmas shopping
Q: With four close friends and relatives getting married this summer, how do I swallow the worry that I'll never have a wedding of my own? It's not something I fixate on generally, but I want to get married someday and it seems like everyone I know is actually doing it all of a sudden.
A: I have an oddball analogy, but I think it applies.
Instead of worry, say you have a genetic predisposition for a certain illness. You can't will it away, but there are actions you can take — healthy diet, preventive care — to help you forestall that illness. Awareness allows for these steps; denial squanders the chance.
In your case, the "predisposition" is your worry, and the "illness" is pouncing on your first opportunity to get married. If you "swallow" your worry — i.e., try to deny it — then you pass up a chance to pre-empt this common, fear-driven mistake.
But, hey, why stop at one loopy analogy? If you were to go spouse-shopping now, you'd be like Christmas shoppers, paying a premium to buy things just because the deadline is more important than the merchandise or its price.
You want to bring home the right person at the lowest possible emotional price, which takes patience. Patience comes from a sense of peace with the way you're living your life, with mate or without — and that kind of peace is the result of an dynamic awareness of what suits you best and why.
And that is something you can work on in lieu of dwelling on whether you'll ever get hitched.