Dear Amy: My spouse has changed so much, and I no longer enjoy her company.
As parents of two young children, we are pretty good parents and partners. Unfortunately, that is the only thing we are now.
She no longer cares about us as a couple, and only has enough bandwidth for our kids.
Everything else comes second, and my wish for a life partner is a distant third.
Our sex life is literally dead.
I love my children so deeply and have no desire to end our parenting partnership (for their sake), but the “adult woman” I married is just not there anymore – there is only “mom.”
I have made my complaints known to her in a way that is not hurtful, but honestly speaking, she either does not have the bandwidth for it or she just does not see it as a priority.
Out of curiosity, if your husband was to say this to you, what would your response be?
– Sad Dad
Dear Sad: You have framed this asking how I would respond if this question had been posed to me, and yet I never had the opportunity to address this, because my own (first) marriage just quietly and suddenly ended, rather than either partner being brave enough to talk about it beforehand.
So, I’d have to toss this back to you, suggesting that you might frame your longings less as “complaints” posed to your wife, and more as your sincere yearning to continue to be with her in an intimate and private adult relationship, while transitioning to what can be an extremely fulfilling role as parents and partners – together.
Your loneliness and hurt feelings are evident, but you also seem to be asking your wife to be all things to everyone in the family. I wonder if there are changes you can make in order to preserve part of her limited “bandwidth” for your relationship. This might require that you step up more as an active dad to the children you love so much, so that she can start to reclaim some of her identity as an individual apart from them.
Overwhelmed parents can very easily forget who they were before parenthood; the day is a blur of lost sippy cups and LEGO pieces before you fall, exhausted, into bed.
A true and brief break from the kids can work wonders, whether it is a weekly “date night,” or a weekend away from them. When was the last time you (not your wife) arranged for a sitter or made plans with a friend or family member to have the kids for an overnight?
Are you courageous and curious enough to sit with a marriage counselor, even if it means perhaps hearing some of your wife’s “complaints” about your home life and the imbalance in your relationship?
Dear Amy: In the past, when I have sent sympathy cards, sometimes I get a thank you card in response.
Is this a requirement?
I did not send thank you cards to the few people who reached out to me after my aunt (who I took care of for many years) died last September, but I did very much appreciate their kindness.
My mother is very elderly, so I may be facing this situation again at any time.
– Wondering in Massachusetts
Dear Wondering: Sending a thank you note to someone who has sent a sympathy card is truly next-level loveliness, and I admire any grieving person who manages to do it.
If a person makes a memorial donation in your loved one’s name – a note acknowledging it is “required.”
Aside from actually getting a note into the mail, it is thoughtful and kind to acknowledge receipt of a sympathy note through a text, email, or call.
This gives both of you the opportunity to “close the loop.”
I seem to be sending many sympathy notes lately (a truly challenging and emotional task), and it is always gratifying to know that these messages have been received and read.
Dear Amy: Reading your letter from “Upset Guest” in the Lakeland (Florida) Ledger, I was concerned that this houseguest was not offered even a drink of water from their host!
Clearly, these people do not live in the old Deep South.
Anyone who comes to my door, even to deliver a newspaper, is invited in and offered at least a coffee, if not küchen and coffee. Shame on those ignorant people!
Dear Hospitable: Keep the kuchen warm – I’ll be right over!
Got a question for Amy? Enter it here and we’ll send it to her.
Sign up here to receive the Ask Amy newsletter to get advice e-mailed to your inbox every morning, and for a limited time — get the book "Ask Amy: Essential Wisdom from America’s Favorite Advice Columnist" for $5.
©2021 Amy Dickinson.