DEAR ABBY: I am 37 and my husband, "Bernie," is 41. We have been married for 15 years. Our children are 2 and 4. Between our work and caring for the kids, Bernie and I have lost the ability to enjoy each other's company.
In the past, I considered Bernie my best friend. Now he's no longer able to laugh or lighten up. For instance, when we occasionally hire a baby sitter and go out for dinner, all he'll talk about is how much the dinner costs and his "plan" for when we return home. He'll say, "I will pay the sitter; then we'll get the children ready for bed. While I get their pajamas, you start the bath water ..." He goes on and on -- as if we don't do these same things every night of the week! I told Bernie he acts like I am a maid he just hired, but he seems compelled to repeat our routine regardless.
Bernie gives me no longing looks or loving smiles. I wear attractive clothes, offer to pay for dinner and tell funny stories. Nothing I do puts him in a good mood. He seems to be happy only when he's with his golfing buddies. His excuse is, "You're a mother now." Please help me. My self-esteem couldn't be lower. -- LONGING TO SHARE HAPPINESS
DEAR LONGING: Your husband may have an obsessive-compulsive disorder that would explain why he repeats the ritual of putting the children to bed. Medication has proven to be helpful for it, if a person is willing to admit there is a problem and discuss it with a doctor.
His loss of interest in you "because you are a mother" and his retreat to the golf course are problems that can be resolved only through psychotherapy for him and marriage counseling for the both of you. Please don't wait to ask your doctor for a referral. If Bernie refuses to go, go without him. This is not your fault, so please don't blame yourself. Your husband appears to have more baggage than a carousel at O'Hare airport.