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Ask Ellie: Marital spats are normal. It's how you handle them that counts

Learning to manage disagreements respectfully and leave them behind, is essential for a relationship to remain loving.

Dear Ellie: Five years ago, at 51, I was told by my wife that I couldn’t attend an out-of-town wedding with her unless I lost weight.

I helped her shop for clothes/accessories, but I didn’t go along as I was unable to lose weight. I didn’t make an issue of it.

Then, in 2018/2019, I bought a couple of homes on the belief that real estate in our area would be strong. It tanked and I lost about a million dollars. We just managed to buy a smaller home than we’d had.

On Jan 1, 2021, we had a fight/disagreement about losing the money. She described in explicit detail, just how she wanted me to die.

All (four) of our grown kids thought this was really funny and still mock me when I get upset about it. There’s almost no discussion between my wife and me.

I’ve been unable to get over these remarks. She’s never apologized. However, her verbal attack has me utterly angry/upset/mostly sad, that after 33 years of marriage, this is how she feels.

I get no love, romance, sex, nor affection. I can barely touch her without her telling me to move away. I annoy her just to get noticed, even if negatively.

My emotions range from wanting to separate, getting revenge by leaving everything to charity, or even wanting to die in a manner that’ll raise serious discussion about how hurtful her words were when I was alive.

My wife’s extremely beautiful. It kills me to think about how much nicer she’d be with someone else.

I hang in mostly for my elderly parents who went through a lot to have and keep me. I’ll inherit some money, but I prefer to leave it for my sister and her family, who do yeoman services for my parents.

I’m trying to decide what’s best for my future. Your guidance would be appreciated.

Badly Treated by Spouse/Children

Your story is sad, but your wife’s response is ugly. That she upheld your children mocking you, is unacceptable.

While the loss of one million dollars would upset most spouses, I’m hoping you two had discussed this real estate purchase beforehand.

If not, it was a gamble you took alone and lost. Her nasty treatment ever since, however, is worse. Staying together in a miserable, frigid relationship has destroyed your self-confidence and could also affect your health, especially if you’ve remained seriously overweight through all this stress.

Take yourself, privately, to a professional therapist (counsellor, psychotherapist, or social work therapist, and meetings can be held online), to discuss how to regain and re-boot your self-image.

Then, discuss your future, not your will. Consider in therapy whether, and how, to re-connect with your adult children. Also discuss whether you can see yourself trusting and respecting your wife again.

Therapy is a process aimed at regaining your best, proud sense of yourself, what you can do better if needed, and what you cannot allow to drag you down. Get started as soon as possible.

FEEDBACK regarding the woman “Scammed and Hurting” because a man on a dating-site sought her personal information (March 16):

Reader — “She should silently thank him for being so obvious. People like her, who have the courage to admit to being scammed, enlighten the rest of us to be watchful.

“There’s no reason for her to be ashamed. These guys are pros. She should take pride in having caught on before it was too late.”

Reader’s Commentary regarding the woman who feels sexually rejected and “dreams of divorce” (March 11):

“I’ve been in this situation with my own wife, when there were underlying issues at play that we needed to resolve.

“While I understand your giving this woman the advice to consult a lawyer regarding divorce, I think there should’ve also been some advice to seek couples’ therapy.

“Getting a divorce need not be the necessary result in this situation. In my opinion it should always be the last.”

Ellie — Advising someone to “see” a family law lawyer for information and education about what’s involved in the divorce process, is often the way to get the most realistic view of the actual impact of divorce — on children, your self-image, finances, and more.

It’s rare that I would consider telling someone to just go directly to obtain a divorce (unless physical/emotional abuse has been involved.)

Ellie’s tip of the day

Marital disagreements are not unusual. Learning to manage them respectfully and leave them behind, is essential for a relationship to remain loving.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].