I occasionally visit with a young (approximately 40) married woman who works hard, gives her family all the love she can muster and show them, and with determination and focus, keeping her family together. She practices her chosen profession part time. Two exceptional teenage girls, two adorable dogs and a needy (her word) husband complete the family. We’ve known each other for approximately 16 years.
We’ve had many conversations about life, love, children, the trials and tribulations of young motherhood, loss of loved ones, and getting older, to name a few topics.
Yesterday, the topics were hormones, maturity, marriage and frustrations of daily living. A seemingly incongruous combination. Or is it? I will call her Ellen for the purpose of this post.
It all began when, as usual, in her caring voice, Ellen asked me how I was. That’s all the impetus needed to get me started. I began by telling her I was feeling very good for a senior citizen – no complaints – good health. I have interests and social friends that keep me busy and intellectually engaged. I continued by saying, “I’m satisfied with my life the way it is now – I wouldn’t say I’m happy all of the time – happiness is a fleeting thing – emotions come and go – ups and downs – it’s impossible to feel happy all the time.” This seemed to have hit a nerve with her.
Ellen unburdened herself to me. Her life was in a state of flux: Her girls were the most important part of her life, and she expends so much love, time and energy to make sure they are receiving the best start in life she and her husband could give them; all the while planning for their further education. There is a “however.” She feels her life is missing things that would make her happy – she wants more than “satisfied.”
Ellen believes she has three children, not two. Husband is the third. Not to say that he doesn’t work hard and has assumed a tremendous responsibility in supporting his family; he works long hours and expends much energy in his work. However, there is a disconnect. He is not the partner she would prefer – he is not really a partner in the marriage – she feels like she is carrying the whole marriage on her shoulders and there isn’t that total dependency she would like to have with him. Dependency for emotional support and dependency for being able to rely on him as a full partner in the relationship – which she believes he isn’t. He is distant and absorbed in his own thoughts.
I suggested counseling. They did have some, years ago, when there was some problems (probably same ones she is talking about).
I suggested having a “date night” once a week or every two weeks, to get “back on track.” Ellen didn’t have a positive attitude about that, and gave me a response that she didn’t think it would help.
I suggested that hormones could be helping to make her feel less satisfied with her life as it is now. She was at a time when menopause comes into the picture.
Ellen was clearly despondent about her situation. She would love to be “fulfilled.” She would like to work more hours, now that the girls are not babies, and she believes she can depend upon them to be responsible for a short time alone at home.
After leaving Ellen and on my way home, I was shaking my head mentally. She sounded like me when I was in the throes of the demands upon me when my children were young. Unlike her, though, and luckily for me, I had a husband who was a true partner in the relationship. I could depend upon him for anything – emotionally, physically, intellectually; he was supportive in all ways.
I will be visiting Ellen again within a couple of weeks, and I hope she will be feeling better. We all suffer lows – as mentioned above – life is a succession of highs and lows. We do not stagnate, for sure, and if anyone says they’re happy all the time, they’re full of crap. Just my opinion.
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