I’m so excited! I received a follow-up email yesterday from someone who wrote me almost a year ago.
I LOVE IT when this happens so if you’ve written to me and want to share whether you took my advice and how things are going, please do.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will write a followup if you like or keep it private if that’s your choice.
Here’s the original column:
I’ve been married for 31 years, most of them pretty damn good, but things started to go south about 12-15 years ago when my wife started spending time on the computer.
She mostly went online for email when the kids were in school but then at some point it just became a constant thing and she is always on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and eBay and all sorts of other sites where she interacts with everyone except me.
My job is very stressful and when I come home I’d really like to sit and relax and talk with my wife, especially now that the kids are gone and there is nobody else to talk to but the dog and she’s not talking back – ha!
I’ve tried to discuss it with her over the years but she doesn’t want to talk about it. Now I don’t even want to come home after work and I am dreading my retirement in a few years.
I still love my wife and I want to spend time with her. How do I get her off the computer and back into my life?
I sympathize with your problem. I know a lot of men and women with the same issue but to varying degrees. On a scale of 1-10, however, you are at 11.
In other words, random Spinal Tap references aside, your marriage is in serious trouble.
It may not be technically dead, but it’s definitely on life support and showing no brain activity. You need either a miracle brought about by serious work by you both or it’s time to unplug the relationship and put it in the ground where it belongs.
The computer/Internet isn’t your problem.
Your problem is your wife doesn’t like you and may very well not love you anymore.
What’s Really Going On?
You said most of the years of your marriage were “pretty damn good,” but then you went on to tell me that this problem began 12-15 years ago.
While nobody has ever accused me of being competent at math, even I can see that almost one half of your marriage has suffered from your wife’s emotional absence as she chose to spend time in cyberspace instead of with you.
When we spoke you told me you began to grow very concerned with her time on the computer 10 years ago. What a coincidence: 10 years ago is when your youngest child left for college.
You also told me she has a college degree and has been employed off and on over the years but hasn’t done anything for the past five years, not even volunteer work, despite your suggestion that work might help battle some of the boredom and empty-nest feelings with which she is struggling.
Fuck the Social Network
I remember when the Internet first came to be and we mainly used it to communicate with friends via email, because suddenly letters and phone calls seemed too burdensome.
Of course we now know that email was just the amuse-bouche to the subsequent Banquet of Fuckery that is the “social network,” a term particularly interesting because it is neither social nor a true network.
Especially troubling is Facebook: a site dedicated to the proposition that while all men and women are created equal, given the right tools we will invariably endeavor to prove our superiority via vacation photos, pithy status updates, food porn, and irrationally exuberant proclamations of happiness.
How I wish we could put that fart back in the poop chute and push Mark Zuckerberg’s pregnant mom in front of a train.
You told me your wife obsesses over how many “likes” or comments she gets on her various Facebook postings. That right there tells you your wife is a very unhappy, very bored and very lonely woman.
Lest you think I am a hypocrite, I’ll have you know that the only reason I am on Facebook is for this blog and to post embarrassing photos of my family whenever possible. It’s not like I give a shit.
Here Comes the Advice!
Now that my rant is complete, here is my advice to you: insist that your wife discuss this computer addiction with you and a marriage counselor.
However, before you do that I suggest you conduct a little experiment.
You told me your wife is online almost constantly from the time you get home until you go to bed (she stays up later than you do – easy peasy when you have nowhere to go in the morning).
Perhaps you should check out of the marriage for a short time as well?
I know you love to golf and you have a vacation home (please feel free to repay me by giving me free time there, btw). My suggestion is you arrange for a buddy golf trip at your second home. No strippers or hookers, Bill.
Don’t say a word about it in advance to your wife. Do be sure to leave a note that you’re heading out of town for a few days. Assuming she realizes your gone and cares enough to alert the authorities – and I’m not so sure she does – you don’t want your wife and the cops thinking you’ve been the victim of foul play, regardless of the joy it would give her.
When she complains upon your return that you disappeared without telling her (again, assuming she’s noticed you’ve left and come back) you can refer her to this blog and blame me. Make me your “escapegoat!”
Sometimes we need to illustrate in creative ways how people are affecting us with their behavior. Tell her she similarly disappeared about a decade ago and you can’t take it anymore. Insist on immediately starting marital therapy and that she disengage from the Internet when you are home.
If your wife refuses to unplug and to seek counseling with you to explore ways to save your marriage, she is signaling to you that she has no love for you anymore but she is too chicken shit and lazy to get divorced.
She also may be depressed so encourage her to talk to her doctor. I’m over my word limit so I won’t address this issue today.
At that point, you need to decide whether you want to spend the rest of your life in a loveless marriage, quietly fingering the trigger of your up-turned shotgun and hoping the dog will somehow learn to talk before you decide to blow your brains out.
You married very young and have many years ahead of you. Whether or not you make them a slog and a countdown towards a welcome death OR a joyous adventure is up to you. Please let me know how it goes.
Update from Bill!
Readers, this is what I received from Bill yesterday:
“Robin, I’ve been following your blog and when I saw your post on Tuesday I knew I had to write. I had that tough talk with my wife and as I feared, she essentially ignored me. We are in the process of divorce and she hired a lawyer who is making my life miserable but all I know is that I can finally see that my life has a better outlook now than it has in many years. I wish we could have used you as a mediator but we live far from Portland. Anyway, thank you.”
Tuesday’s blog included information about my mediation services, and I am thrilled to tell all of you I’ve gotten five inquiries in the past few days. Five!
Bill, (and everyone else reading this): I do not limit my practice by geography.
Please contact me for details but know that I can mediate cases all over the United States, with the exception of North Carolina. Why North Carolina? Because I don’t want to be forced to carry around my birth certificate and show the part where my bathing suit covers every time I want to pee-pee or poo-poo.