Shayne on You: Start by focusing on the positive

Dear Maggie,

Iíve been married for 7 years, and up until now itís been great. But lately things have been changing. My husband seems distracted when heís home, and seems to come up with lots of reasons not to be. Thereís always something, somewhere, that needs his attention. He works late. Golfs with his buddies on the weekends. Does odd jobs for various friends and neighbors as favors. Itís almost like heís avoiding me. And heís not as interested in sex anymore either.

Iím afraid heís having an affair. I love him and donít want our marriage to end over this. What should I do?


Worried Sick

Dear Worried,

First, stop worrying. Stop being terrified. Relax a little. Begin a daily practice of controlling your mind and your thoughts, because youíre the only one who can. Right now, youíre thinking the worst. Youíd be better off thinking the best. Because whichever one you choose to focus on is the one youíre going to get.

I want you to begin right where you are, today. I want you to forget all about yesterday and the day before and the day before that, because you canít change the past, and besides, itís over. Itís done. Spending any energy at all on the past is a total waste of time. You are where you are, and where you are is fine. Begin today. Think the best.

There are lots of reasons your husband might be exhibiting this kind of behavior. The first one that pops into my mind is that he might be experiencing some sort of erectile dysfunction, or some other condition thatís impacting his sex drive or energy levels, and thatís he too embarrassed by it to tell you. But there could be a hundred other things going on as well.

Instead of sitting home worrying about what heís doing while heís away, get your own life going on. When heís golfing with his buddies, you should be out doing something fun with their wives and significant others. Jogging, tennis, the mall, a book club, whatever. What you do not do is start snooping through his pockets, cell phone records, or questioning his friends. That is a betrayal Ė almost as much of one as cheating would be. You either trust or you donít. Pick one. And if you picked the latter, then the marriage is already over.

Mostly, you really need to sit down and talk. And I think you need to rehearse your talk before you have it, because the last thing you want to do is accuse an innocent man. So no accusations. Tell him how youíve been feeling, using ďI feelĒ to start most of your sentences, rather than ďYou did this,Ē or ďYou made me feelĒ this. Tell him youíve been feeling less and less a part of his life, and less and less secure about his feelings for you. And just ask him if heís been avoiding you for a reason, if anythingís wrong. And if he says thereís not, you need to tell him, well, actually there is. Iím not getting what I need from our relationship lately and Iím feeling unhappy, and I want to talk about that.

Keep it loving and kind. Reassure him youíre not delivering ultimatums or threatening to leave him or giving orders. Explain that youíre unhappy, and you want to be happy again, and you want to share your feelings with him because thatís what couples do. And that you value your marriage so much that you just want to take stock and discuss and keep it healthy and vibrant. And then take it from there.

But at the same time, remember, your happiness is a choice you make every day when you wake up. Itís not up to him to make you happy or up to you to make him happy. We each have to do that for ourselves. Itís way too much of a burden to put on anyone else. So if you find yourself in a situation that is making it difficult for you to choose to be happy, and you canít change the situation, then you might need to choose a different situation.

Life is too short not to be happy.



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