DEAR 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.