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Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My wife has become all-consumed with our kids and it’s like I’m just an accessory in her life now. She treats me poorly, is short with me and isn’t turned on the least bit.
It feels like after we had kids she just stopped liking me for some reason. I try to help where I can, but I guess I could do more. I don’t know.
I just wish we could go back to how it was before the kids, but still have the kids. You know what I mean? What should I do? — Her Unhappy Sperm Donor, St. James
Dear Unhappy: Don’t blame it on the kids! They are innocents and deserve nothing less than full love from their mom and dad.
Do start a fearless conversation with your wife focusing on everything you loved about each other in the beginning, when things began to turn, and how everything seems to be going wrong now.
Here are the rules: Don’t do this where the children can hear it, like when they’re in their bedrooms and supposedly going to sleep. Similarly, don’t do it outside on deck chairs under a bedroom window. No raised voices, either, and don’t talk about it every night, as it’s exhausting for both of you.
If you can afford a relationship counsellor — even by phone — do that as well. They have heard all these problems before and have helped work out solutions for many couples.
The kids would have to be out of the house at the grandparents’ home or at a babysitter’s place, if you already have a "bubble" with them.
It is damaging as a child to hear your parents talk about adult problems, as kids wrongly tend to assume the blame. In your case, this is likely happen because, frankly, you seem to be blaming their existence, to a degree, for your marriage problems. Not that you want to get rid of them, really, but that’s how it comes across — so be careful what you say!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m the wife of a man with serious hoarding issues. He’ll save literally everything, except for stinky, wet garbage, and he has mountains of recyclables in the garage.
We don’t live under stacks of newspapers with a bunch of cats running around like on TV, but we have rooms that are becoming unusable, and every time I confront him, he just gives me a bunch of excuses and becomes annoyed.
At 56, he’s a man with many hobbies. He’s into high-level crafting and likes to build new things out of old things. But now, there’s even stuff piled in our bedroom! That’s the limit, and I told him that as I threw those things out into the hallway.
I’m losing my interest in sex, because I feel like he’s becoming a defensive slob, and that’s unattractive to me. I literally feel pushed out of our bedroom by his crap, and I am worried it will only get worse. Please help! —The Hoarder’s Wife, Charleswood
Dear Hoarder’s Wife: As you know, you can’t just storm through the house and throw his "stuff" out for him. That won’t work. He needs to work through this obsessive-compulsive disorder with a psychologist or psychiatrist to enable him to let go of things.
The message you want to get through at this juncture is "stop now" and the message he is sending back through his actions and defensiveness, is "I can’t."
Since his hoarding has now gotten into the bedroom, it’s no wonder you aren’t feeling sexual.
He loves his stuff and feels anxiety about letting go of anything. To him, everything has special value now, or he thinks he may really need that very thing later.
Getting mad at him isn’t going to work. He’s panicked about letting go of things. He will also be panicking about the possibility of you leaving him, and hanging onto things even tighter.
Hoarding is a part of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), and there’s help available at the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba.
ADAM is open during the summer, and they offer help and meetings for many anxiety disorders. Most days they are available by phone or drop-in from 10 a.m. to 4 pm. They are a kind and welcoming group.
For more information about hoarding, you can also check out the International OCD Foundation.
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