Luv Doc: A Few Thousand Words
Even a few thousand words from a fake doctor are not enough to fix years and years of dysfunction
Hi Dr. Luv,
I'm writing to you in hope that you will tell me what I should do. I have been with my husband for 30 years. I'm 59 and he is 58. We met in 1990 and we got married seven years later. We had a lot that we went through because I was white and he was black. Back then, there were some places that would not even let us come in, but we made it through all of that and more. I have a great life with my husband, and we worked together all through those years. In fact, just five years ago, he took a job at another company. I don't know if that is the reason for what is going on now, but the last four to five years, things have been not so good.
A few years ago, he told me that he just wanted to be alone. This just about killed me. I was looking at our life and did not even know he was feeling this way. My heart just broke. I begged him to let me stay. I told him that I loved him and I didn't have anywhere to go. He said, "OK, we'll give it a try." Since then, this is how my life is: We don't make love, and if I try to touch him at night, he pulls away and tells me that he does not like sex anymore. I ask him, "Is it because I have put on weight? Is there something I did?" My day is going to work and then coming home and sitting in the bedroom and watching TV; my husband comes home and has the living room and the big TV. I have asked him and asked him, "What can I do?" He has taken off his wedding ring and told me he will never put it back on. I have even asked him, "Should I be the bad one and just pack up and move out?" You see, I have never been alone; I have never lived alone; I got married at 17 and was with that man for eight weeks. Then, at 18, I got married again; that partnership lasted until I met my now-husband.
We have been through so much – our parents passing away, as well as other family members. The reason he took a different job was because we needed to have insurance, and the job we shared with each other didn't provide insurance to us. In fact, after all these years together, he has a good credit rating and everything is in either his name or both of ours. You see, he makes money and I make money, but we both put it all in the same bank and I pay all the bills. I also have to bring home $80 each week for him. He still uses the bank card for gas, food, and other needs, but the $80 is just for him. I have been doing this the whole time we have been together.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, a few weeks ago, I went home and told him that I can move out if this would help him. That I would be the one to go, so family and friends don't think he was "the bad one." He said no, that it's too late to try and find someone, and that I was the one that took care of all the bills and had the "computer smarts." He didn't say he loved me – he just told me that I took care of all the paperwork. See, I have been taken very good care of by him; I can shop when I want to, because he knows that the bills are paid and lights are on and he really has it made. In fact, we just got him a new truck with a six-year note. When I asked him why we did that, he just smiled and said, "I wanted it." He can shop when he wants and do what he wants, too; he just brings home the receipts so I can put them in the checkbook.
When we had our last talk about us and about me moving out, he asked me if I wanted to take a vacation with him and go to Las Vegas for a few days. I was thinking, "Where did this come from?" ... but I remember telling him that he has been on vacations twice a year, while I have not been on vacation in five years. So we booked a flight and a room for April. We will be there four days and three nights. I don't even know if this will happen, because every other day there's something in the air between us. Like the other night – I didn't clean up the toaster after I used it. He won't say anything to me, but he will stay in the kitchen and just shake his head and roll his eyes. I'm a clean freak, but with the toaster, I just wasn't thinking.
I have to tell you as well that for the last five years, I come home and drink wine until I know I can go to sleep; I'm in the living room most of the time, and after he goes to bed I sleep in the chair so I don't upset him by moving around in the bed. But he doesn't understand that for 30 years I have worn earplugs because he snores so loudly. In fact, when my mom and dad were alive and we went to their house, they would ask me, "How do you do it, lying next to him with all that snoring? It's like the roof is coming off." I guess after so many the years, I just could. But lately, I can't. Last night, he got me up at 2:30am and I could not go back to sleep. If I had woken him, he would have gotten up and closed the bedroom door real loud so it would wake me up and let me know for the next day that I kept him up and he was really tired now.
If you ask if I have told someone about this, the answer is yes, my doctor. In fact, I asked my husband to go with me to the doctor to see what we can do; he did, but when he talked to the doctor, he told her that nothing was going on with our love life. I knew then that we would not tell anyone. It's funny, because every day we kiss goodbye and we kiss when he comes home; in the morning, when I go to work or he does, we tell the other "I love you" and to have a good day. He is off on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I call at lunchtime. On Wednesday through Friday, he calls me when it's his lunchtime, and on Saturday and Sunday, neither of us calls the other. We have been doing this for so long that I guess it's just "in us."
Please help me. I don't really have friends, just the people that I work with, and I don't like to tell them what is going on, even if they know us really well – my husband worked here for 11 years, so they know us both, but they don't know how he has changed or how my life has changed.
p.s. He tells me that he has not been with anyone, and he knows that I haven't, either. - CD
OK, in the interest of the readers who won't make the effort to go online and read the remaining thousand words of this missive, I am going to synopsize. We already know that the husband wants to be alone, but here's the rest of the story: Their relationship hasn't been good for the last four to five years since her husband took another job, among other things, so they could have health insurance. They haven't had sex in a very long time. They have developed a pattern where she comes home from work and drinks wine in her chair in the living room until she goes to sleep – both because she doesn't want to bother her husband by her wakefulness, and because he snores badly and keeps her awake. At first, he threatened to move out, but she begged him to stay and he did. Later, she asked him if he wanted her to move out and he told her not to because she pays the bills and takes care of the house. They still kiss goodbye in the morning and hello at night, and call each other during their lunch breaks. They have a stable life financially. He just bought a new truck, and they are planning on going on a vacation to Las Vegas in April, but still don't really interact with each other at home. He claims he has not been with someone else and she hasn't either.
Damn, I am pretty sure I missed a few things, too. Like that she has no true friends to talk to about this and that she is desperate for some help. Anyway, there is so much going on here I feel like I need to dispense with my normal snarkiness and cut to the chase.
So, CD, you need to talk to someone – ideally a therapist, but definitely not to a fake doctor who writes a marginally entertaining advice column. You need to openly discuss your husband's lack of affection, the lack of sex in your marriage, and more importantly, the unhealthy patterns you and your husband have developed over the years. As awesome as it sounds, drinking wine until you pass out every night is a fast track to an early grave. Similarly, your husband's snoring is unhealthy and needs to be addressed as well. Vegas is a blast if you like noise, throwing away money, and not getting any sleep, but your money and time will be much better spent gambling on your health – both mental and physical. And lastly, even if you don't accomplish anything as a couple – even if you can't get your husband into therapy – you should absolutely use your health insurance to hire a therapist and hopefully get a different perspective on your troubles. I feel certain it will be worth both your money and your time.[Ed. note: Letter was lightly edited for clarity and a shorter version appeared in the print edition.]