Needy Child Stressing Marriage

Q: My wife and I have been married for 15 years, and we have three kids. Our youngest is proving to be very needy and difficult, and it’s causing some strain in our marriage. Lately, I’m finding everything my wife does to be very annoying, and I’m jealous of things she is doing, like doctor’s appointments and social outings. She has been very defensive towards, me and I’m afraid I may lose her if I keep picking on her. I can’t seem to stop, though. I know there are deeper things going on under the surface, so how do we approach this issue? -Dan, 44

Dr. Anna: Recognizing there is a serious problem is a good first step. Indeed, feeling jealous of her is something to be looking into. It sounds like you both need some support. Sometimes with all the demands of life, it can be hard to see your own stuff—your thoughts, feelings, and needs as a person. This is a situation where a few sessions with a good therapist can come in handy. While it’s tempting to try to just shut down your feelings and tell yourself to “cut it out,” that doesn’t work very well. Take a curious and open approach with yourself to find out what’s really going on. Are there things missing from your own life or from your relationship with your wife? Spending some time to sort through these difficult feelings with someone who’s experienced can be priceless in finding a better path forward quickly.

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