Dear Amy: I don’t know what do to anymore. My wife of 16 years, whom I love dearly, is not the same person I married. She is prone to mood swings and goes off on our two children or myself at any moment over the smallest things.
Just when I think that things are improving, another episode occurs that sets our lives back.
She has admitted that she’s in a rut. I suggested she go talk to a counselor – but nothing. I suggested we go together to counseling – again, nothing.
When I try to diligently bring up these concerns, it leads to an argument and no resolution. I’m afraid to ask one of her friends to address this with her for fear of the backlash that could come from it.
What should I do?
Dear Helpless: Your wife should see her physician and have a thorough checkup. Any number of medical issues might be contributing to her intense mood swings. In particular, she should have her thyroid checked.
Your children should not pay the price for your wife’s disordered and unstable behavior. Please do everything possible to protect them from rages. You should ask her to leave the room (or you should take the children elsewhere) until she is calm.
A therapist might counsel her to pay close attention to various signals her body sends just before a serious and sudden change in mood. Meditation and/or deep breathing might help her to regulate. She should look at her stressors or triggers; perhaps you can help her make changes in her life so she won’t feel so overwhelmed.
Instead of asking her to see a therapist during (or just after) an episode, you should talk about it when she is stable. Note the impact this is having on your family, and support her in getting help.
Dear Amy: I’d like your opinion. I’m a 61-year-old (white) woman. I’m friendly and outgoing.
I enjoy meeting new people and like striking up conversations with strangers. But in this day and age, with people being so quick to take offense, I worry about saying the wrong thing.
Case in point: I had lunch in a lovely upscale restaurant. The waiter had an accent I couldn’t place. I wanted to ask him where he was from, but that question could be misunderstood. Would he think I was questioning his legal status (which was not the case at all, I was just interested)?
Should I ask the question and take the chance of offending someone? Or don’t ask and maybe miss a chance to have an interesting conversation?
Political correctness has me paralyzed. Life is confusing these days.
Dear Wondering: You might signal your interest in someone by saying (for instance), “Wow – you have a beautiful accent.” If the person volunteers more than a simple “Thank you,” you might take that as an opening for a brief conversation. It is not always appropriate for servers to engage in personal chit chat with patrons, so follow the other person’s lead.
In terms of “political correctness,” I don’t think that people have necessarily become “quick to take offense,” but more that some (previously silent) people have found their voice. So, for instance, back in the day, someone admiring an accent might have asked, “What ARE you?” (meaning, “What is your ethnicity?”). Now, that same person could say, “I like your accent. Where did you spend your childhood?”
As the parent of two people of different races (from my own), I assure you that people don’t walk around looking to be offended, but offense sometimes comes from surprising corners.
If political correctness makes you hesitate before speaking, that’s probably a good thing, but I hope it doesn’t paralyze and discourage you from trying to connect with people.
Dear Amy: I’d like to add my voice to others responding to the letter from “Sad and Mad in California,” whose alcoholic sister, friend and dog were basically living in her yard.
I learned in Al-anon that I would only support recovery for the alcoholic in my life, nothing else. I would have faced the heartbreaking choice and called the police to get the group off my property.
Dear Been There: Thank you for providing your testimony. One reason Al-anon is so successful is through people like you lending your important prospective to others currently facing this heartbreak. I hope “Sad and Mad in California” finds her way to a “friends and family” group, as I advised, through Al-anon.org.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.