Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I love my husband and want to spend time with him, but he doesn't like to spend time with me, or at least that how it seems. When he gets home from work he goes into the den and turns the TV on without wanting to talk to me about our day. I make dinner almost every night and he just wolfs it down, then goes into his shop to work on some project or another.
He always takes vacations alone or with the guys -- he will take our dog and disappear into the mountains, or he and his buddies will go on a hunting trip or gambling in Vegas. It's clear I'm not invited. By the time I suggest taking a trip together, all his vacation days are used up. He just shrugs like, "oh, well."
It makes me so sad that he doesn't want to spend time with me. I tell him this but it just makes him feel like I'm nagging and then he retreats from me even more.
I'm worried we're growing apart. I know you're going to suggest going to a counselor but I doubt I could convince him to do that. I'd have to threaten leaving him otherwise, and even then I'd have to drag him kicking and screaming. Please tell me what I can do to get him to want to be my companion again. I miss him.
-- Married but Lonely
I'm totally single, so I could be wrong, but don't people get married so they can spend even more time together? My married friends are constantly hanging out, and they seem to love it. Vacations. Dinners. Workouts. Even date nights, whatever the heck those are (if you're married, isn't your whole life one long date?). It all cuts into good times with my bros.
I'm leery of any married person who spends all of his/her spare time "alone" or with people other than the person they're married to.
Sounds extremely shady.
But I'm going to take a leap here and advance as if your husband is simply a faithful flake.
In that case, it's time for some tough love. More important, it's time for you to have some fun. So, book a dream trip for two. Make plans. Buy tickets. And keep your husband informed every step of the way. If he puts up a fight or throws out excuses, tell him you are taking this trip with or without him.
If it's with him, hopefully you two can reconnect with quality time away from work, TV, his single friends and other distractions. It may be exactly what you two need to become best friends again, and you get to be the hero.
If it's without him, transfer the ticket to a friend or family member and try to enjoy every second of the trip. Then return home and decide whether that's the life you want to lead as a married woman -- a life without a partner, that is.
As Elizabeth Gilbert observes in "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage," gone are the days of marriages based on political alliances, or raising a dozen kids to work the farm, or symbiotic divisions of labor.
You don't need your husband to serve as the sole breadwinner; you can make your own money. Nor does he need you to do the cooking and cleaning and child-rearing; he's perfectly capable of doing all those things.
These days, the only real and compelling reason to get and stay married is companionship -- the desire to be in one another's company, to share the journey of life.
So if you and your husband aren't companions, you've got a problem. You should be best friends and you know it ... but he doesn't.
He needs a serious wake-up call. It won't happen unless you make it clear the current situation is unacceptable, and things need to change.
You don't have to nag; just ask him to help you find solutions. (Dudes dig that problem-solving stuff.) Maybe it will be as simple as sitting down and making a plan together.
Maybe you should borrow some books that will give you the tools you need to be able to talk about this stuff. Maybe Wayne's idea of making plans with or without him is the way to go. Or maybe counseling really is the best resource at your disposal.
If he wants to kick and scream, let him kick and scream. You can always go by yourself and use it as an opportunity to find solutions on your own.
Whatever you do, do something -- the status quo isn't working.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.