Dear Amy: Almost 10 years ago my wife discovered that I had been cheating on her, emotionally and physically, and that I had a porn addiction I couldn’t control.
We separated for a year but eventually ended up back together.
Years of therapy and support groups helped me to become the man I really want to be. And accountability, both digital and in the real world, help my wife to see that I remain faithful and dedicated.
Alas, at the age of 40, I feel that I spent most of my 30s living like a grounded teenager.
I have freedom working for myself, but I’m not really allowed to use it.
All I really want to do is surf and spend time in the ocean, but my wife is convinced this will somehow lead to me cheating on her.
Despite the fact that she can see my location at all times, and has full access to all my devices and every inch of my life, I think she has some trauma that therapy didn’t really heal.
Any anger I have will always be outweighed by a greater anger that she can generate.
I don’t want to be ignorant of her needs but I’m slipping into deeper depression. I told myself I wouldn’t live like this in my 40s.
My wife seems to have no intention of loosening her grip on my life. It is destroying my well-being.
I’m essentially the sole breadwinner, and I live today as a dedicated husband and partner. I’ve submitted to her every need for accountability.
Is it wrong to put my foot down and take a bit of my life back?
Dear Betrayer: You and your wife are both trapped by the breach in trust caused by your infidelity during your 20’s.
But just how long is this jail sentence supposed to last?
After 10 years of therapy, transparency and fidelity, you’ve proven that you want to and are able to remain faithful and trustworthy.
If you are currently this unhappy and angry in your marriage and haven’t slipped back into your addictive behavior, your recovery seems a solid success.
Your wife has been living in a state of hypervigilance. This is damaging to her physical and mental health. She should definitely resume therapy, and her goal should not be to change or retrain you, but to retrain her own brain away from rumination and anger, and toward balance, trust and health.
It seems logical that if you both want to stay in this marriage but don’t want to stay trapped and angry, then you should take this trust out for a spin and see what it can do.
Go surfing for the day. Your wife will have to feel her feelings, understand her anxiety, and find ways to cope with it.
If she spends a lot of time policing you, she may also have to find other ways to fill that time with a job, a hobby, friends and interests of her own.
Dear Amy: I’m a procrastinator unless I have deadlines.
How can I deal with this?
— Practiced Procrastinator
Dear Procrastinator: You’ve taken your question to the master procrastinator, Grasshopper.
Like many writers, I’ve perfected the fine art of procrastination, although I view it differently than I used to. I now see procrastination as being a potentially positive aspect of the creative process, because I tend to get a lot of things done while I’m busy putting off getting other things done. (Procrastinating writers tend to have very tidy houses.)
Starting can often be the hardest part. (I call this, “Opening the envelope.”)
If you can force yourself to open the envelope, click on the email, assign a title to the word document, schedule the Zoom call, you will have started. Work will often flow from simply getting started.
And yes, deadlines help — so set a deadline for yourself and offer yourself a small reward for meeting your deadline.
Your self-imposed deadline might look like this: “I’ll start the project at 11 today. After I’ve done my work, I’ll reward myself with one episode of “Seinfeld.”
Dear Amy: I was dismayed by your response to “Tempting Trainer,” the total jerk who has fathered babies with two of his clients.
You suggested that he should “double up” on his condoms.
While I assume this was a joke, actually doing this would result in the condoms tearing.
Dear Concerned: Several readers contacted me with this concern. Yes, I was joking, but I appreciate the concern and correction.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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