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I’ve gone through all the stages of the pandemic: from being obsessed with COVID numbers to appreciating the slower simpler pace, from wearing the same pajama bottoms everyday on all my Zoom calls to going to the drive through at McDonald’s just to see another human being, from being restless, bored and irritable, to feeling full-on, happy-in-my-complete isolation. How should I start getting ready for the new reemergence, whenever that may happen? Do I have to wear makeup or stylish clothes again? Respond to ANY social overtures when I’d rather just watch Netflix and eat ice cream?
Ready or not….here I am.
You absolutely do not have to wear makeup or stylish clothes (ever) again! Nor do you have to respond to social overtures if you don’t want to. Watch Netflix all night and plow through a case of Chunky Monkey with abandon! My guess is that the day will come when the sun is shining, the right friend calls and you will find yourself skipping down Chicago Avenue like it was the yellow brick road. Until then, you do you. Stylish clothes? Overrated! And don’t even get me started on primer, concealer, bronzer, highlighter, or foundation. Is a woman’s face a construction zone? Go naked, go free, my friend!
I am generally not the jealous type. But then again, my husband is not the flirtatious/cheating type, so I’ve never been tested. In recent years, though, I’ve begun to get a nagging feeling in my belly that a high school friend of his is holding out hope (and putting out feelers) that they will one day be together. She has never been married, is a single mom of a teenager, and is thin and attractive and successful. Me, not as much. And 23 years into our marriage and three teenage kids later, things are often pretty boring, and sometimes persnickety. When my husband travels for work to the part of the country where she lives, they always see one another. They clearly still have a bond and a fondness for one another. Recently she found a note she’d written to her mom long ago about him, indicating that she thought they were fated. She took a pic and sent it. He thought it was charming, and defended her. “Well, who else does she have to share that with?”
He admitted that she’s always had a thing for him, which has lasted because she’s remained single. Oh, and one other thing, she also recently made some noises about moving to our area. I realize that my feeling threatened may be more about my insecurities about our middle-aged marriage, but also – that’s real. I feel like if I ask him NOT to visit with her, it will make matters worse, and possibly push him to take it underground. Any thoughts?
First of all, kudos to you for being so in touch with your feelings. It sounds like you are the person in the house with the highest EQ (as many women are), and as a result, see the complexities of the emotional landscape. I’m curious how your partner reacted when you expressed your fears – I assume he brushed off your worries or reassured you that nothing would ever happen.
Certainly in long marriages, shiny objects can be tempting, and I don’t think any of us would be honest if we said we didn’t sometimes think about old flames or unrequited crushes. That’s just life. There are two points I want to make. The first is that those old flames become shiny objects because they were never tested the way a marriage with children can be, so it’s easy to think, it was great once, it would be great again! That is a big fat psychological sandtrap that you have to prevent yourself from falling into. Anything untried and untested looks better than a fighter after a bout. In all likelihood, if one acted on that fantasy, it would soon become just as much work as any long relationship – maybe in different ways, but lots of work nonetheless.
The other point I want to make is that the antidote to your feelings of unease is connectedness. By that I mean staying connected with your spouse. Easier said than done! You may find that you can redefine the time you spend together. I’m not necessarily talking grand gestures or declarations (though I wouldn’t sneeze at a nice weekend away or beautiful jewels!). I’m talking about regular check ins, walks to get coffee, an occasional movie. Keeping the lines of communication open is the real point here. And like everything else, it takes work. Having said that, every couple should have the name of a good therapist in their back pocket for stressful times. But honestly, it sounds like you got this. And by the way, “she is thin, attractive and successful, me not as much,”….. we all have our insecurities of course and if you feel yours rising like a San Francisco sourdough, you may wanna schedule a few sessions with the aforementioned therapist but also, love thyself! You are beautiful! Besides, does your husband look like George Clooney? ‘Nuff said.
I was talking to my (mediocre) therapist about how I feel hopeless these days but the COVID vaccine rollout has given me some hope. She said “you haven’t gotten it, have you?” Given that she already crossed that line, should I try to convince her to get the vaccine?
On the fence
You should not try to convince her to get the vaccine because you should be convincing yourself to find a better therapist! Hello, boundaries! This one is worse than mediocre. You obviously have good instincts – listen to them. Then tell the therapist that the transference you’re experiencing means you’ll be transferring right over to someone else’s office.
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Friday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at firstname.lastname@example.org.