What makes a marriage lonely?

FROM THE HEART - Barbara Gonzalez Ventura (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2019 - 12:00am

These are problems texted to me. Let’s call the first woman Anna (not her name, but it’s the first letter in the alphabet). She is in her 60s and feels her husband’s total indifference. Every time she talks to him he snaps back. He doesn’t touch or embrace her. They are alone now. Their children are abroad. She has retained her looks but he doesn’t seem to notice.

Sometimes, she says, she wants to leave him. But she doesn’t do it because — I think — she feels it is her duty to stay with him. Maybe it’s because she loves him still. But she seems to feel that he doesn’t care for her anymore. She texted me to get this burden off her chest. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone because they might gossip about her. She really wasn’t asking for my advice. As much as I understood and was grateful, I could not help but think about her problem, on and off. It would just keep coming back to me. What can I tell her to help?

 The next woman is Betty. (Again, “B” is the second letter of the alphabet.) Now, she, too, is in her 60s. Makes me wonder if married couples in their 60s have more or less common problems. She says her husband is a good, kind man but her intimate love for him has dried up. She does not desire him anymore. She feels sorry for him because he is good to her and appears to think she feels that way about him only temporarily. She makes it clear that there is no other person who attracts her. Her marriage just makes her lonely.

 What will I say? As I review what I have written so far I think maybe this is the same problem. Anna’s husband is like Betty. Both of them don’t actively care for their mates anymore. If they are in their 60s, assuming they married in their 20s, that means 40 years of living with the same person. I can’t imagine keeping desire going for that long. The longest I’ve lived with anybody before was 12 years.

 But then a marriage goes through its ups and downs. Initially, all goes well and then the children come. They demand your attention, especially when they hit puberty. Then there may be some major unresolved conflicts between you and your mate as you want to handle problems differently. In time the children grow up and move away and you look at each other perplexed. You seem to be strangers once again. True, you know each other well — or so you think — and yet you no longer feel drawn to this person who has been with you, enjoyed you sometimes, but now is no longer exciting to you. But you are Catholic, seriously Catholic, so you cannot leave him or her. So you just adopt behavior that makes it easier for you. Anna’s husband is just cranky all the time. Betty is just lonely all the time. What is the solution to all these?

 I think all four individuals — husbands and wives — should look into themselves more, get to know themselves better. I don’t know why the Carl Jung Circle Center name always pops into my head. Maybe it’s because I think that’s where at least one of these couples — the women who texted me — should go. I discovered Carl Jung when I was in my late 40s, alone, terribly tired and bored with my life. I read about a Jung festival at the Ateneo. I only knew Carl Jung was some kind of a psychiatrist. His name I associated with Sigmund Freud, another psychiatrist whose name I had only read somewhere, but I decided to go anyway. I learned so much I could not stop going to their highly creative activities until one day I felt I had had enough. It is a wonderful creative organization that helps you get to know yourself better. The solution to everyone’s problems lies not in the outside world but begins in the inside world, in getting to know yourself better, in knowing yourself really well.

 Nobody teaches you that, so let me start. Your exterior behavior has its root in something inside you. You don’t know what that is because you didn’t grow up discovering what was right and what was wrong. You were just told to do certain things and not to do other things and to blame yourself for everything. No one ever taught you to understand yourself. But you have to understand yourself to be happy. You will not find happiness by texting me. You just unburden yourself. You are not wrong but you must try to understand why you are behaving the way you do.

 So to all the men and women having problems, try calling the Carl Jung Circle Center at 0916-6341755. Believe me, you will have fun. And the solution to your problems will begin.

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