Ask Amy: Stressed Wife Needs a "She Shed"
When the going gets tough, the tough get ... a personal space away from their husbands
Dear Amy: I have known my husband for almost 40 years. We’ve been married for 30 years.
I am trying to become healthier in body and mind. I practice yoga, and I am evolving and growing.
My husband chooses to do nothing to take care of his body; he eats whatever and whenever he wants, and has always chosen to be sedentary.
He just retired due to health issues (and his age). I’ve just retired, also.
He doesn’t choose to go places. He doesn’t even get out of the house very often.
We live on a large property, and even though he uses a cane, he could still at least go out to his garage or onto our porch, but he chooses not to.
I have literally begged him to give me my space, since we both worked throughout all of our marriage – until now.
I am now battling depression and anxiety.
Amy, I took my marriage very seriously and I don’t want it to end.
I have suggested counseling, and I attend therapy sessions on my own a few times a year, but he wants nothing to do with that and tells me that I need fixing – not him.
I still love him, but I don’t feel confident that our marriage or my sanity will endure. Help!
– Loving Mother and Wife
Dear Loving Mother: Even though he meant it unkindly, your husband has halfway arrived at a bit of wisdom. You might not need “fixing” as much as he does, but you deserve fixing, and – of the two of you – you are the one most likely to receive it – and to benefit from it – because you are motivated to change.
Contact the counselor you have seen previously and immediately set up a virtual appointment for an assessment. I hope you understand that many people are struggling right now … the pandemic has forced everyone into uncomfortable territory, and while this retirement phase might have been challenging in normal times, right now you are likely being denied some of the important social, friendship, and familial connections that would be helpful to you.
You should try to establish a daytime routine similar to the one you had while working, if possible. If you can’t have privacy inside your home, you should head to the porch, the garage, or another part of your large property and set up your own space where you can keep “office hours,” and work on your yoga, meditation, reading, painting, gardening – or whatever creative pursuits you want to try. Look online for “she sheds” to see if you might be able to create an actual retreat space that is yours alone. Make sure you talk to at least one friend or family member each day.
You notice I haven’t mentioned your husband…? I can’t “fix” him. You can’t, either and whatever flows from that tough reality, you should be strong and healthy, in order to face it.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2020 by Amy Dickinson