Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I have no idea how to begin this letter and I simply can’t believe I am actually writing it. Up until five days ago, I thought I was married to a reasonably content husband for the past 52 years. Although I would be considered a fairly accommodating wife, giving in to my husband’s wants and desires over mine, I never expected any gratitude or praise. His idea of a vacation was sitting in the backyard in his lounge chair reading the TIME magazine and smoking a cigar. When I asked that we go visit our daughter and her family in the country for Shabbos, he would not go nor let me go on my own. So we almost always stay home. It’s sad to say that the one trip we took to Florida was for his mother’s levaya and it was the best trip I ever took and it lasted the seven days of shiva and covered the fifty-two years of going nowhere.
Five days ago, at the dinner table, he announced that he wanted a divorce. He said he has been unhappy for quite a while and had no feelings for me anymore. I sat there dumb-founded and it took me quite awhile to rap my head around what he said. When I asked him if I had done anything to hurt or offend him he said ‘no.’ Then I asked him why he wanted a divorce, his answer was “because you make me feel old,” after which he got up from the table and walked away. Since then, we are like ships passing in the night, we eat at different times so as not to speak to each other, and he has taken to sleeping in the den and not in our bedroom.
I have not stopped crying since then. I get up in the morning and prepare for work, putting on tons of concealer under my eyes so no one will see how red they are from weeping. I put on a good front so far since no one has caught on but I don’t know how long this will last or what I can expect. I feel like I’m sinking in quicksand with lead boots on and have to work hard to keep my emotions in check until I get home, where I finally break down. I have thought of calling my sons to ask them what I should do, as I have no daughters, but I always hang up the phone on the second ring, because I am so ashamed of my situation.
I have always been a very private person, always involved in my family, my job and did not cultivate or encourage any deep friendships, so I sit by myself and weep waiting for the next blow to fall. But then I thought of you and here I am asking you for guidance. Is there any way I can fix this and make him forgive me for whatever I might have done that caused this madness?
There are many strange things happening in our day to day life with the onslaught of Covid and even before it. There must be something in the air or the water that’s making people, who never displayed signs of madness, suddenly wake up one morning with thoughts of, smacking someone in the street over the head, pushing a complete stranger off of a subway train platform onto the tracks, and worse, just taking a gun and randomly shooting pedestrians walking in the street. Then there are cases like your husband who, for no apparent reason wake up one day and decide, for whatever fly is buzzing inside his head, to end his marriage, or quit his well-paying job and go live in the street, or believe that the entire universe is against him so he must punish all of mankind. But it happens every day. Just pick up any newspaper and aside from the loony-toons we voted into office to better our lives you will read about the every-day Joes who are unhappy and therefore need to make others unhappy.
Getting back to you husband who can’t articulate as to why, after fifty-two years, he is unhappy with you, I will take it that if it isn’t due to his falling in the shower and hitting his head on the tub, it could possibly be due to the onset of ‘male menopause.’ Yes, you heard me correctly ‘male menopause’ is as much a reality with many men who, once they reach the age of fifty, display inexplicable signs of age reversal. Suddenly they want to buy the red convertible and drive it with the hood down, even in the rain. to feel like a teen again with the wind in his hair even when he’s almost bald. He sees himself being attractive enough to attract someone younger than the girl he attracted fifty-two years ago while in the back of his brain he views this as his last chance for youth. I’ve dealt with two such gentlemen during the last twenty years and I can tell you it made for some interesting sessions. One of them did actually follow through and divorce his wife of forty-five years and has regretted it ever since after his sanity returned. The other fellow stayed the course and worked on dealing with his second chance at youth and is grateful he did.
The takeaway from your husband’s sudden personality change can be a result of any number of things. Best is to have him go for a complete physical evaluation, if you can convince him, and see if this doesn’t yield a problem that meds or vitamins will correct. It may also be hormonal as men go through those changes just as women do. Or worst case scenario he’s got his eye on someone younger… in which case you can sit back and watch her make a fool of him or be better off without him. Maybe now’s a good time for you to plan that vacation you’ve always wanted to go on but never got around to taking because ‘Mr. Wonderful’ preferred his lounge chair in the back yard!