04/02/2006DEAR ABBY: I have an enormous problem and need a woman's input, and that's you. I realized recently that I have abused my wife, "Doreen," for years.
I never hit her and I never cheated, but I had many frustrations inside and I took them out on her verbally. I never realized what I was doing to her emotionally. A few months ago, it happened again -- I yelled at her. After a weekend of crying, Doreen came to the conclusion that she didn't need the aggravation anymore. Our marriage is in deep trouble.
Abby, Doreen is my life. I worship her, I really do. I love her and I'm IN love with her. I always have been and I always will be. I'm seeing a counselor. It is going well, and Doreen has agreed to go, too, both alone and with me.
Although we have been intimate recently, she shows me very little affection or attention, and says very little to me. I understand she needs time and her own space, and I'm trying hard to give that to her, but she means so much to me that I want to be around her as much as possible. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. My doctor told me I am clinically depressed. I need her back in my life, but even more, I need to be back in HER life and heart. I am anxiously awaiting your reply. -- HEARTBROKEN IN N.Y.
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: When people are diagnosed as clinically depressed, it means their brain chemistry is out of whack. Before you can heal your marriage, you will have to heal yourself because your depression -- and not your frustration -- may have been the cause of your ugly outbursts. I understand that you feel awful right now, but it may be necessary to reorganize your priorities.
Pushing and crowding your wife out of your own insecurity is unwise. Although you may not realize it, being beaten down can be as damaging to the target as being beaten up. In fact, the effects can be more long-lasting if the person is told repeatedly that he or she doesn't measure up.
Your wife's feeling for you may not be dead as much as completely numbed. She's cooperating to the best of her ability by seeing your therapist -- and that's a hopeful sign. Your best bet is to do everything you can to make yourself better, listen to your therapist, and take your relationship with Doreen one day at a time.
DEAR ABBY: In a few months, some good friends of mine will be getting married. I am in the bridal party. The problem is, my ex-fiance is one of the groomsmen. My ex and I did not break up well, nor have we had any contact since I moved out.
Because my ex is not the best man, I don't really need to deal with him during the coming months or during the wedding. However, I'm afraid it might be uncomfortable for me during such things as the reception dinner, the picture-taking, etc.
I don't want to distress the bride and groom, not this close to the wedding. How should I handle it if he should make things uncomfortable, other than as politely as possible? -- CONCERNED IN TROY, N.Y.
DEAR CONCERNED: I'm sure the bride and groom are well aware of the circumstances of your breakup. Therefore, it would not be out of line to suggest to whoever is handling the seating at the reception that you would prefer not to sit near our former fiance. Be cordial in your interactions with him, but don't linger or allow him to start a serious conversation, and you should be able to make it through the occasion without a scene.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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