Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I’m not much for letter writing, and I am not articulate or descriptive, so you’ll have to use your imagination and fill in a lot of the blanks.
My problem, however, is very real and very debilitating. I can no longer tolerate my home-life and I cannot conceal my dislike for my wife and children. There are days when I just want to disappear and let them think whatever they want – I simply don’t care anymore. It has gotten to the point where I exist mechanically, getting up in the mornings, going to minyan, working as late as possible so as to avoid going home while the pandemonium is in full swing, and then getting up and starting the whole grind over again.
To give you some background: I am a forty-six year old man, yeshivish, and work for a large accounting firm crunching numbers for the last twenty three years. I make a decent living, but have very little in the way of savings. Our six children are still in school – two in college – and one child is getting married this summer. I am in the office five days a week and bring home work to do for at least half a day on Sunday so I don’t have to spend it with my family. I don’t really like any of my kids; they are money-grubbing leaches who only show interest in me when they are in need of money or other material favors their mother cannot supply.
Which brings me to the greatest source of my misery: my wife.
We married when I was twenty-two. I honestly don’t know why. I really had no feelings for her, but she was pretty and cheery and all my friends were getting engaged so it seemed like the thing to do. I certainly thought she could have done better for herself, as I was quiet and withdrawn and by far more insecure than she was. So, I fell in line with what was expected and after five dates, we got engaged. Seven months later we were married. That we had five children is, in and of itself, something miraculous. The honeymoon wore off rather quickly for both of us, but there was an unspoken agreement that this is what we both signed up for so we would “stick it out,” since the kids were already on the scene. I knew I didn’t love her, didn’t even like her, from very early on and viewed her as someone to put up with. I must say she did most of the raising of the children, as I showed little interest and my ineptitude was at the forefront.
As the years passed, we spoke less and less to each other and what little contact we did have was usually punctuated by insults and put-downs, mostly from me to her. Over the years she lost her outward charm, gaining a lot of weight and letting herself go in the looks department and I completely soured on being seen with her in public.
So, here we are at this juncture. I am a stranger living among family I have little to do with, resenting them and still having to put on a public face for the forthcoming wedding. My wife now gets back at me by spending money whenever and however she wants, using the wedding as an excuse and not caring that we will soon reach a point of having “no more money in the bank.” For her it is all about saving face and compensating for everything I do not give her.
I really can’t think of much else except to say that I feel empty and sorry for the way my life has turned out and I really don’t expect you to be able to give me any advice that will change this. But thanks for listening, in some small surprising way this letter has lifted some of the weight off of my spirit.
Your letter is a five-course meal of misery, and I have a feeling there is so much more you haven’t told me. By omission of your relationship with your own parents and siblings, you leave me to wonder what kind of upbringing and family ties you experienced that may have had much to do with your sullen, introverted persona and poor social development. You married your wife simply because you were attracted to her looks and her cheery personality, possibly thinking it to be a perfect foil for your extreme opposite personality and hoping, possibly, that it would rub off on you. Bad call right there. Social astuteness and functional behavior are not contagious and certainly not contingent upon being around upbeat and well-adjusted people. They are traits rooted in genetics and cultivated from infancy by parents who make the effort to guide and manage their children’s development with constant loving care. From this standpoint, I can only say your wife got the short end of the deal and, by association, so did your children.
What is very evident is that you have a very depressed personality from way back to your early years. You would have greatly benefited from therapy as a young child and most definitely should seek it now because your writing indicates that you are sliding downward into clinical depression, if you are not already there. The very fact that you seem fairly cognizant of your dysfunctional, anti-social behavior indicates you still have the awareness and wherewithal to benefit from an intense regimen of therapy with medicinal assist.
Don’t deprive yourself of the hope of leading a loving and healthy life with your wife and children. How sad that you have not yet experienced the wonderful sensation of deep connection with your flesh and blood and a loving relationship with your long-suffering wife. It can still happen for you, but you must take the initiative to make the first move and make that appointment immediately.
Sit down and show this letter and my reply to your wife and ask her to stand by you in this effort. I would not be at all surprised if she would be willing to join you in your journey to wellness. Her weight gain is probably a reflection of her own dissatisfaction with your marriage; she clearly turned to food for comfort. That weight can be shed, just as your indifference and emptiness can be altered to bring a new and satisfying couple into being. Enlist the support of your children who, I am sure, are desperately missing a loving and present father in their lives, even at this late juncture.
There is an amazing arsenal of mental health miracles available today, you just have to find a therapist to work with you and use the tools that he or she provides. It all starts with you and it all starts now. Don’t waste another moment of precious time. And, please keep me in the loop and let me know how you’re doing. Everyone reading this column is rooting for you and we wish you all the very best.