Dear Miss Lonleyhearts: I won't have anybody in my life this Valentine's Day. My heart feels like a baseball in my chest -- heavy, no emotions -- except if some guy cuts me off in traffic. Last year I wrote you, and I was going crazy because my wife wanted to leave me. I needed to leave her, too -- but just couldn't. At that point she was not making love with me for two years, and barely talking to me. You could hear the damn clock ticking. The kids were gone, and so was the woman I married, most evenings. Finally she just got an apartment secretly, and told me she was leaving. It was kind of a relief.
Now that we're split, I feel like I'm at zero instead of "minus 1,000" (As a faithful reader, I know you like relationship math.) Next year I hope to be at plus 1,000. I don't mean to sound depressed. I'm just very alone and need a blueprint of some kind. I'm very good at my career, but not good at this. -- Well-Known Winnipegger, Downtown
Dear Well-Known: Being known isn't terribly helpful in your situation, since people think you already have a big life and all the friends you can handle (sincere or otherwise). You'll need to let down your guard and allow people to know you're open to meeting new buddies, and nice women to date.
So here's a plan: 1) No matter how adjusted you think you are, you need a few debriefings with a psychologist or relationship counsellor now your marriage is over. 2) Join sports and clubs where you make male friends of your own that have nothing to do with any women who come in and out of your life -- buddies for life. Look up old friends you knew before your wife, as part of that project. Also get into social sport stuff like a running club, hockey or golf, take lessons and join the club. 3) Travel, but not to all-inclusives populated by families and couples. Travel for adventure or to do charity work, or to help crew a sailboat or climb a mountain. 4) Don't listen to married guys' advice. Starting a new social and love life is not anything like "jumping right back on the horse" as they like to say.
You need to heal and learn from the broken relationship and grow in a healthy direction. Then start dating casually and then go for a serious relationship. Consider taking the course Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends (204-775-3484) offered locally every few months. People learn a lot, and make very good friends there.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: About five years ago I started making a big deal out of Valentine's Day as an experiment. I was kind of cynical about it and was actually hoping to prove it was all garbage and I could go back to my slothful ways. So, I laid it on thick and shocked my wife -- breakfast in bed before work, flowers delivered to her office, the kids off to grandma's for the night, me cooking a winter barbecue on our deck while she soaked in the hot tub to a gift of music she loved (new CDs) plus a card with heartfelt appreciation inside.
She was so sincerely touched, we had the best sex in years, initiated by her, I might add. Our marriage rocked for months after that. She kept saying, "I didn't know you loved me so much." This year I'm giving her a custom ruby ring -- her red birthstone surrounded by diamonds, which she got to design herself, with a jeweller. Call me Mr. Valentine. I know what's good for me -- my wife, feeling supremely loved! -- Mr. Valentine
Dear Mr. Valentine: Nice going! Keep up the good work and live happily ever after with the love of your life.