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My job came between us

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  November 11, 2009 09:31 AM

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Good morning. We had some weird behavior in the comment section at the end of the day yesterday. I’m all for sparring, but please keep your comments respectful (and not creepy). If you don’t, I’m going to have to fly my mom back up here to yell at you.

Three bits of news:

1. There are only two more days to vote on the Love Letters theme song. So vote, please.

2. My dream has come true and the people who like to give us movie tickets have offered us two pairs of seats to the new “Twilight” movie. The preview screening is Wednesday, and yes, I will be there. I know some of you don’t care about teen vampires. You don’t have to. I care enough for all of you. I’ll be posting the terms of that ticket contest in a separate entry in an hour or so, so check the top of the blog for details.

3. We chat at 1 p.m. Don't forget.

Q: Dear Meredith,

I realize my situation is somewhat similar to a letter about divorce from last week, but I’m not looking for validation. I am really at odds and in need of a sounding board.

First off, I have been married for 10 years now and have two kids, who I truly love with all of my heart. I recently started my own business that consumes an enormous amount of my time leaving me little opportunity to be a father or much of a husband. My wife resents my job. She has told me as much, and I truthfully don’t hold that against her since she has essentially been raising our kids like a single mom. At the same time, if I were to walk away from my business, I know I would harbor some resentment as well for not being able to finish what I have started, a dream that I once thought would be best for my family. Now I feel like whatever choice I make will lead to failure on some level.

Lately I have been feeling more and more as if we have just grown apart. I thought maybe our kids would be the glue that would keep us together, but I just don’t feel much of a connection anymore. One of your readers not too long ago said that the opposite of love isn’t hate, that it’s indifference. That pretty much sums up how I have been feeling for a while now, since well before I started working for myself. My wife has asked me on a number of occasions how I feel or if I still love her or if she should plan to move on with her life. I guess in the past I wasn’t necessarily truthful because I hoped maybe something would change for the better. We have made efforts to try to improve our relationship but I feel like they have just gone in circles. It’s really hard, because I know she still loves me.

To complicate things further, I met someone a while back who I felt a connection with, on a purely platonic level. We don’t talk on the phone, email or text, but we have shared some great conversations and I feel like we have a lot in common. I think about her often and look forward to the times that our paths do cross; I get butterflies in my stomach, my heart races when we meet, and it pains me to see her unhappy. I haven’t expressed my emotions to her -- I don’t know if they are even reciprocated -- and won’t complicate anything further by bringing her into this before I make any decisions, but it has been an incredibly long time since I have felt anything like this that it took me by surprise to be able to feel so much life inside me again.

I have been faithful in every relationship I have ever had and have never before looked to “trade up.” I have too much respect for my wife for everything she has done for our kids and for me to ever consider cheating on her. I’m not looking to have an affair or for a reason to jump ship but is it selfish of me to want to experience that kind of happiness again?

I love my kids and will always be there for them regardless of what may or may not happen, but it worries me to think how they would be affected. I want to do what’s best -- but is staying for the kids the wrong reason? I worry about my wife, as well. I still care for her very much, but I can’t help but think she would be better off finding someone who can take better care of her. I have always put my family before me, but now I’m faced with the possibility of finding happiness again and I don’t know what to do. I cry by myself a lot and I feel like a terrible person. Please help.


– Gentleman Weeping At The Crossroads, Cambridge

A: GWATC, I’m shaking my head. And eating candy. Because this letter upsets me. And it makes me upset with you.

You’ve made a series of bad choices for your marriage -- one after another. I don’t object to your career aspirations. It’s possible to pursue and fulfill dreams even if you're somebody's husband. But you have to take turns. And no matter what you’re doing, you have to include your partner in the process. Your venture should have been a joint project, something you and your wife were building to improve life for your family. Your family is supposed to be a part of the excitement. But this has been about you and only you for some time. You admit that you’ve been absent, even with your kids. So let’s not pretend they’ve been your biggest concern.

In excluding your wife from your passion, you’ve forced her to become an office manager and nanny. That means she has become less and less like the woman you fell in love with and married. I’m not so sure that you should be making any decisions about how much you love her based on your present situation. You need to let her be herself again before you decide what you’re capable of feeling for her.

Here’s my tough love: you need to grow up and make some sacrifices. This new woman who gives you butterflies is an accessory to your selfishness. In some cases with Love Letters, I can empathize and almost endorse someone’s plans to leave their partner, even if they have kids. But this isn’t one of them.

You have to allow your wife be more than just your secretary and clean-up crew. If you give her the chance to live for herself instead of just managing your choices, you can better decide how you feel. I know you want a blank check to bail, but I will not give you that.

Marriage isn’t easy. That’s why people who get married get so many gifts. You haven’t fallen out of love with your wife. You made a choice to fall out of love with your marriage. You need to address that before you decide what’s best for anyone but yourself.

Readers? Go to it. Here.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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