"I'm tired of doing everything for everybody and getting nothing in return," says June, 30, a tall honey-blonde who's been married for nine years to Philip, an industrial sales engineer who travels a great deal. They have two children, Beth, 8, and Jimmy, 7.
According to June, things have been bad for a long time, but they've gotten much worse since they discovered two years ago that Jimmy has a severe hearing impairment and must enroll in a special school. "Phil takes little interest in Jimmy or his education," she laments. "He seldom talks to me except to criticize how much money I'm spending, and, because of the ridiculous hours he keeps, he rarely spends any time with the children."
As June explains, there are no pleasant family gatherings at their house. Phil arrives home late on Friday night, long after the children are in bed. Though she tries to tell him what's happened during the week and discuss the latest advice from Jimmy's teachers, he brushes past her with a cool hello and flops into bed. "Our sex life has virtually passed into history," she notes.
"Not only do I carry the full responsibility for two children and the home, I've been pushed to the limit this past year by my brothers and sisters," June continues.
In fact, June has a long history of playing social worker, psychologist and general do-gooder for family and friends.
"But just once," she says, "it would be nice if someone did for me. And more than anything else, I need a husband, and my children need a father. Can't Phil understand that?"
Phil, also 30, can't, and he's angry. "I fell in love with June because she was so caring and not greedy for attention," he says. But he had no intention of being a father quite so soon, saying the financial pressure made him "very nervous."
Nor does he appreciate the fact that, the moment he walks in the house, June bombards him with every problem.
But Phil is also upset that the high cost of Jimmy's school is making their financial situation tighter.
Saying yes too often
"While Jimmy's hearing impairment complicated this marriage, June and Phil were in trouble long before their son's birth," notes Ruth Johnson, a marriage counselor in Los Angeles. June is a rescuer who needs to please everyone all the time and ends up feeling resentful and angry that her own needs are never met.
She was the perfect match for Phil, a spoiled only child who wanted a wife who was devoted to him alone.
Like June, many people -- but especially women -- have trouble saying "no." Wanting to be liked, they put someone else's needs before their own. June needs to realize she doesn't always have to say yes. But though her needs are valid, her sarcastic, querulous voice and barked commands at Phil are a turnoff.
If, like June, you have trouble breaking the yes habit, consider the following:
* Most women are taught from childhood to be cooperative and compliant. The truth is, if you want to get off the yes-track, you have to take a chance that someone won't like it. Or you.
* Practice saying no in relatively benign situations. For instance, the next time a telemarketer calls asking you to contribute
money to a cause you have never heard of or couldn't care less about, politely but firmly say no. Then hang up immediately.
* Remind yourself that you have every right to say no, even to a loved one or friend. The next time someone asks you to run an errand that you don't want to do, politely but firmly say no. No excuses necessary.