Time Together, Time Apart
Chloe: When we met, my husband was so attentive. He was always buying me flowers, calling, stopping by my work-sometimes it was even a little too much. Now that we’ve been together for a few years he never does that stuff anymore. He doesn’t even seem that interested in sex. I’ve stopped initiating because I’m sick of being turned down. I keep asking him what’s wrong but he says it’s all in my head.
Therapist: How do you think about what’s happening?
Chloe: I guess he’s not attracted to me anymore. This is just how it is, right? The passion always dies when you get married. Most of my friends say the same thing. But I’m afraid if this keeps up he’ll find someone else and divorce me.
Therapist: What was going on in your life when he was pursuing you? Was anything different?
Chloe: Lots! I started a new job right before we met and was really loving it. I was working out and going out a lot with friends. Oh, yeah, and I was still in my book club back then.
Therapist: Are you still involved in those things?
Chloe: Not so much…I haven’t been working out and I don’t have time for my friends anymore because of the relationship. I also quit the book club because I kept falling behind in the reading. It was embarrassing. Now I just work and go home, basically. And then, when I do, Ted doesn’t even seem glad to see me.
Therapist: So when you think about the girl Ted knew when you guys first started dating…
Chloe: Yeah, I guess I was more interesting. I had a lot more going on back then. But you have to make the relationship a priority, right? Plus, I always got the feeling Ted kind of resented my girlfriends. He certainly didn’t like me going out partying. I understand that.
Therapist: As your outside interests have decreased, what’s changed between you and Ted?
Chloe: Hmm…I guess I lean on him more. He doesn’t like to watch T.V. with me and he goes to bed much later than I do. It drives me crazy and I’m always trying to get us to do more together. It’s like we’ve switched places!
Therapist: Relationships are always a balancing act between time together and time apart. In my experience, too much of either can cause problems. Of course every couple has to figure out what balance works best for them. But when someone tells me they’ve given up their own interests for the sake of togetherness, that’s usually a red flag. What do you think Ted would say about all this?
Chloe: He says he’d like me to do my own thing more, but I think he’ll give me a hard time. He still plays golf and hangs out with his fantasy football buddies though, so that’s not fair.
Therapist: What would make you feel best about yourself?
Chloe: Well, I don‘t want to keep feeling so needy and insecure. It seems like the more I’m like that, the more Ted ignores me!
Therapist: And the more he ignores you…?
Chloe: Yeah, of course, the more needy and insecure I get. It’s a vicious cycle. I guess he’ll have to accept the old me, because I sure liked her better.
Therapist: I have faith that once he gets used to her again, he’ll remember he liked her better, too.