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September 21, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Damn it. I can't believe I'm writing this.

I am currently married to a person I have been with for five years. We have an almost two-year old son whom we both adore. My husband is not a jerk. He's not abusive. He's not distant or cold or boring or loveless. He even gets my jokes, for god's sake. My mother thinks he's Mr. All Time Wonderful ("the son she never had", only she likes my brother a lot as well).

When we met he was an economics major and heading to do his masters in pure math. I had messed about in high school and so had to do "time" in college before I was even able to get into a University program. Things have turned out rather well for me. I'm finishing up my degree (in English lit and Religious Studies) this year -- I took time off to have our son -- and will probably begin my masters next fall. I've also 'fallen in' with the literary crowd round here and there is pressure to publish from other published people (I write poetry so we aren't talking big bucks here). My husband now has a fairly good job as an accountant and rather than taking a masters he's gone the route of professional designations -- which is no bad thing in and of itself.

One of the reasons that we began to date was that we both loved books and saw ourselves as heading for obscene amounts of education. I must admit that I loved this image of us growing old together arguing about novels and spending our late afternoons drinking scotch in comfy chairs -- call me boring, but this is wildly romantic stuff.

My husband never reads now. And thus we never talk about books, or art or plays. I know that he does not plan to return to university. He does other things -- valuable things I dare say, but things I don't really understand. Our conversation drifts always to our adorable child. I'm worried that we really only have him left to talk about.

I don't want to break up. I love this person very much. We've spent so much important, life changing, time together and it's impossible to imagine being without him (which is, of course, not true -- the fact that I'm writing this in the first place means that I have at least considered the possibility). But things keep changing (which is, of course, true for everyone) and though I don't wish that we exist in some sort of time warp, I do want us to change in a similar direction.

He barely notices this. He says that he's quite happy and that he intends in no way to hinder my professional pursuits. I rather expect that's the case -- but I had hoped that he would celebrate them. Of course, I would be extremely hard pressed to tell you what exactly he does with his working day.

I would like to know how I can get us back in some kind of harmony. I want to be not only parents together, but adults and peers. Add to this that the masters program I want to take is not offered anywhere near here. We would have to move. Or I would have to settle for something else. I'm terrified of the big confrontation that this might bring.

This was so rambling.
-- Mary

Dear Mary,

Are you kidding? Novels, scotch, comfy chairs, late afternoons... that is wildly romantic. Like, and it's raining?! Oh! Oh!

And I'll bet you're a good poet, too.What a delicate, poignant, description of a marriage that has been hollowed, but that -- yes, I believe -- can be refilled with all sorts of books and words and poetry and spirits.

Belleruth thinks so too. "Having a new kid under two can really distort a relationship -- and that's okay. But your husband may have morphed into his picture of "daddy-provider." You may have gotten scared sh**less about how trapped you feel. So you need to (re) build things into yout that will keep these new stereotypes from setting into place like stone. Give the adorable kid to someone and go do something interesting, that's what I say. It's critical, in fact. A long weekend every now and then, doing something together that is not kid-like and possibly intellectually interesting: a workshop.A literary cruise. Whatever. Doesn't matter. You should do this every three or four months. It will remind you of what else you have in common. You will be terrified to do this and will think of reasons not to, in which case you should write back to Breakup Girl and she will remind you of those long, late afternoons that could very well lie ahead of you."




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