Dear Mrs. Bluth,
My whole life has turned upside-down and I can’t discuss this with anyone because it would become fodder for gossip. However, I do want to find a solution, so I am writing to you in the hope you can be of some assistance.
My wife and I are sort of a May/December marriage – she was twenty-five and I forty years when we got married. I know that she married me more for my wealth than for my looks or any other attributes and I accepted this. She came from a very simple but structured home and I from a home of great luxury and wealth, with parents who filled every desire except one: their physical presence in the lives of me and my siblings. They were hardly ever home, always traveling or entertaining, leaving us to be raised by nannies and babysitters. When they were home they were on the phone, in meetings or sleeping. The only meals we ate together were on Shabbat or the chagim and all of us children would fight to get their attention. Being love-starved and attention-deprived impacted each of us differently. My oldest brother left home after high school and made bad connections while touring Europe, dabbled in drugs and eventually lost his life to an overdose. My two sisters married into good families, but one is now divorced and the other is extremely unhappy because her husband is abusive. Although they tried to reach out to our parents, predictably, they were never available.
My wife and I have four children ranging in age from fourteen to six. My wife is very strict with them and doesn’t give them the kind of freedoms their friends have. Even though I can well afford to give them whatever they want so that they can fit in, my wife refuses to “spoil” them. She says that she didn’t have these luxuries growing up and it made her a better person, a wiser person. Remembering the loneliness and emptiness of my own childhood, even though I had everything money could buy, I tried to offset her strictness by getting the older two boys the things they wanted so they wouldn’t feel left out. I have a strong and close relationship with them, however, my wife gets upset when I do this and it causes constant arguments between us.
Our oldest son, the fourteen year old, asked to be allowed to go on a ski trip with his friends during winter break. It seems a few families had booked a villa in Aspen and invited him to join them. My wife said no as we would be going away for a few days as a family to a hotel upstate.
My son had a major melt-down, screaming at his mother that she was chocking him, taking away all his friends and that he couldn’t wait until he was old enough to leave home and get away from her. He called her some names and stormed up to his room.
I followed him upstairs and tried to calm him down. I also told him I would arrange for him to go on the trip. My wife found out what I had done and lost it. She said I was destroying her authority with the children and that by giving into their every wish, undermining all the values and discipline she was trying to instill in them. She was done, she said and it threatening divorce. She barely speaks to me and has moved into a guest bedroom.
I am terrified that she will make good on her threat. I truly love and respect her and, in my heart, know she is right. But I want to be a loving father to my children and am not sure how to proceed.