Originally Published: August 30, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: After more than 25 years of marriage, I still feel more alone being married to my husband than I would if I were actually alone.
Throughout our marriage, he has maintained the same lifestyle he had before we got married. He often takes weekend outings and even vacations with his guy friends. He tells people that he does not enjoy doing anything with me, his wife.
There is nothing that is joint in this relationship: He refers to many possessions as his and refers to our friends by saying, “My friends.” He will decline or accept social invitations without even telling me about them. If he accepts an invitation, he tells me that he was invited and will go to the function excluding me. He turns his back to me to block me out of table conversations when we’re out to dinner with a group. I am not treated as a spouse or companion. If I want to have a conversation and ask any questions to start, he accuses me of nagging. He’s argumentative with other people, too. His motto is, “I’m right; you’re wrong.”
This is not at all what I expected out of a life together. The loneliness and pain never leave. I just try to endure each day of the same thing over and over. — Missing Life and Happiness
Dear Missing Life and Happiness: Give him some of his own medicine and you might end up healing yourself in the process. What I mean is to focus on you. Make new friends or strengthen your existing friendships. Go out for girls’ nights; maybe even plan a weekend away with them. Stop focusing on the things he’s not giving you, and start giving them to yourself. Once you’ve built up a healthy sense of self-esteem and personal identity, it will be easier for you to talk to your husband about issues in your marriage.
Dear Annie: I am a school psychologist with many years of experience and I read the letter from “Torn in Wisconsin” about her ADHD daughter and the problems she anticipated with an upcoming family reunion. While I would never assert that I can discern all the details of a situation and diagnose someone from a short letter, there were some aspects of the problem that suggested that this child could be on the autism spectrum. Saying that she doesn’t have the social skills for a reunion is practically a flashing light to have her child assessed for ASD.
There is a good chance that her daughter is receiving school services for her identified disability. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, she would have a category of eligibility, probably flowing from a doctor’s diagnosis of ADHD right now. But IDEA also allows for ongoing assessment and adjustment of services.
“Torn” should contact the school staff and ask for a meeting to discuss her daughter’s anxiety and social skill deficits. A school psychologist should be invited to the meeting to answer questions about whether there should be further assessment of her daughter. Referring “Torn” to reputable information about autism spectrum online might also help her feel supported against the expectations from her family. She doesn’t need them shaming her parenting skills.
The field of autism is moving fast and not everyone out there is able to discern these distinctions. It is important though, and I hope we are getting better all the time. Your column could help here. — Amy S., District School Psychologist
Dear Amy: Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge on this important subject. I’ve passed your message on to “Torn in Wisconsin,” and I’m printing it so it might help other families.
To learn more about autism spectrum disorder, visit the National Institute of Mental Health website (https://www.nimh.nih.gov).