Relationship Advice

Starting Point (Part 2)

nicely dressed woman

Jamie, last week you told us you are the adult child of an alcoholic. That means, as your brain and nervous system were forming, you were subjected to the vagaries of a drunk. That profoundly altered your actions, abilities and aptitudes.

Part of your future was squandered by your parents.

For safety, you married a man who is also the child of an alcoholic. He reminds you how poor you were when you met. He "jokes" and asks what names people used to call you. Then he starts guessing names. It's as if you are the blonde wife of a man who repeats blonde jokes day after day. It's needling behavior, and it is not funny.

When you excuse his conduct as immature humor, you do what children of alcoholics do: make excuses for bad behavior. Barring dementia, he is intentionally hurting you.

With your husband, you found elements of safety: a shared background, a shared future, food and shelter. But emotional and psychological safety are still missing from your life. That's why, at 50, you feel you never found your passion in life. You hope there is more to look forward to than retirement and bingo.

Last week we suggested one of the several good books on designing a fruitful life. We recommended Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel as an example of the genre. But we also said that would not be enough.

You didn't marry for love. You are mature enough and enough time has gone by to admit it. The feelings you had when you married seemed like love but were probably mostly gratitude and relief. A telltale sign that you are not in love is that you don't tell your husband things because he will use them to hurt you.

When you say, "I don't have a hobby, I don't have a passion, what am I going to do?" you are sidestepping the issue.

You are not quite there, but you are getting close. Why don't you have hobbies or passions? Because you don't have safety. While your spirit is being killed, while you are constantly parrying and dodging psychological blows, there is little you can do.

You can't figure out your passion living with someone who will not let you have one. Though your husband was an avenue out of chaos, unconsciously you realize without your job you could not stand to be with him.

You have friends who support you. That's something to build on. You have an idea how to search for a purpose. That is something to build on. You are not the child you once were. Your husband can support you, or he can get out of the way.

You are at a gathering and a crossroads. Your life now is work, home, repeat. And when you retire? It will be home with your husband and his shaming tactics. Home, home, home, repeat, repeat, repeat.

The years go by quickly, and then, Boom!, it will be on you. Days and months and years of what he is doing now.

Jamie, everything is on the table. Every element of your life is up for grabs, waiting for you to decide what it will be. Time doesn't repair or fix, but it does heal. Distance lessens the pain from childhood. There is more to life than bingo.

It's time to decide your future. If what you decide does not lead to greater hope and exhilaration with life, it's wrong. The right decisions will swell your chest with optimism.

Wayne & Tamara