Monday, May 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Sympathy for wife can help resentful husband rekindle their love life

Sympathy for wife can help husband rekindle their love life

Q: My wife and I have been together for 16 years, married for 14. We had children late and have two lovely kids. We both never wanted children, and then suddenly she wants a child and I acquiesce, consequently I fall in love with said child. Eventually one child is not enough and we must have another — and do.

Now I feel trapped and resentful. I do love our second child, but suddenly really resent my wife. Our love life sucks and is totally up to her. I do try to add romance to our lives with notes, flowers, dinners out; the extra effort seems to matter none. I feel a hostage in my own skin, bed and marriage. I want to scream.

My wife is good, kind and a great mother. Since our children, I seem to not matter. About me: I am a leader in business, manage a large staff and love my wife. Help.

J.

A: I've left this question in my queue for a couple of weeks, because it's radioactive. One of the worst things we do to each other, as humans, is stereotype each other. We see a couple of familiar details, say, "Ah, s/he's one of those," and relieve ourselves of the burden of giving it any more thought.

What you're talking about in your letter is a favorite one of those. You've heard it, right? "Women have children and then, bam, their husbands get the couch." If I show any signs of sympathy for your wife, I'll hear about it.

I'm sympathetic to you, but your hopes lie in your sympathy for her.

Here's something to consider: Not everyone is comfortable with the abundance of noise, speech, color, smell, touch — especially touch — involved with small children. They're in your lap, your arms, they're tugging your hands, your shirt, your hair. Again, this affects men and women, introverts especially, older more than younger, and leads both men and women to withdraw (though women still tend to be the parent in the thick of it).

So, maybe your wife is among those who have only so much sensory capacity on any given day, and by the end — with even the most beloved spouses — just want solitude, silence and a cradle of cool sheets.

Flowers here are tone-deaf, and may even translate as pressure.

Obviously, not every freeze-out breaks this way. Sometimes there's just a plain, old-fashioned alienation of affection. If she's not only sex-averse but also short-tempered and distant, then skip the rest of this and find a marriage counselor skilled enough to get you talking, and qualified enough to diagnose depression in either of you.

However, if your freeze-out is a matter of your wife being as good a friend as ever but having nothing for you physically, then it would explain why your romantic gestures go thud. A more, er, results-oriented gesture might be to steal a weekend (or overnight) together at a nice, local hotel while a trusted relative or sitter cares for the kids. Or, to offer her weekly, scheduled her-time for physically restorative things.

Tough as it is, look across the table today and frame your neglected love life not as a rejection or withholding, but a depletion. A depletion of a resource that's renewable as long as you're both communicating and patient with each other, and willing to give what you least want to give when you least want to give it (you: space; she: sex) — just as a gesture of sportsmanship, good faith and long-haul love.

Comments
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Kendrick Lamar: ThePulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop powerhouse leads The Championship Tour on Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, with fellow hit makers including SZA and Schoolboy Q. $35-$125. amphitheatretampa.com. Tampa Ba...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/20/18

Tell Me About It: The kids are welcome, but not the bedbugs

Q: My brother and his estranged wife have three children. I love all of them. They live out of state and send the kids to us for summers. There have always been hygiene issues, like not washing after wet beds, leaving faint urine smells on the kids.T...
Published: 05/17/18
Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

What's happening this weekend in Tampa Bay.
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld is joining its sister park, Busch Gardens, in offering free cups of beer this summer. Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. T...
Published: 05/16/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

ROYAL WEDDING: Watch partiesPrince Harry marries Meghan Markle on Saturday; guess how excited we are to put on a fancy hat and drink champagne cocktails at 6 a.m.? With royal wedding excitement at a fever pitch, St. Petersburg’s Hawthorne Bottle Shop...
Published: 05/16/18
Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

E STREET BYPASS: Little Steven and the Disciples of SoulAsk Little Steven Van Zandt to pick his favorite songwriter in rock — excluding his boss Bruce Springsteen, of course — and he has to think a minute. He admires veterans like Billie Joe Armstron...
Published: 05/16/18
5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

1Bike to Work Day: If you’re too nervous to face Tampa streets on your own, seven neighborhood meetup locations have been set up in South Tampa, Ybor and Tampa Heights for a Friday morning ride with experienced cyclists. Leaving at about 7:10 a.m., t...
Published: 05/16/18
Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

He won. He actually won. It’s still hard to believe a month later, still a mouthful of joy to say aloud: "Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar." After three Album of the Year Grammy losses in five years, most recently to Bruno Mars in Februar...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Tell Me About It: Sons guilt trip parents for refusing to move

Q: My husband and I, 68 and 61, were thrilled to become grandparents two years ago. We are enjoying our first years of carefully planned retirement in our home on the East Coast.The problem is our sons, who live in two of the most expensive real esta...
Published: 05/15/18