Married but alone: I am sorry. It must really hurt.
It’s time to stop treating this as something marginal. You are not a week away from fixing the problem by modifying its behavior.
What you are describing is someone who left the marriage emotionally.
Why, only she knows, but I can think of a few general possibilities: Her feelings for you have changed; she is depressed and is healing herself with electronic dopamine shots; she’s too trapped in her technology to walk away unaided.
It’s just one layman to another; marriage counseling is a good next step. (Make an appointment if she refuses. Resources here.)
The same goes for clearly stating the stakes for your wife: “I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this. When you jump online as soon as you get home, barely acknowledging us, I feel incredibly alone. For children, this could mean lasting damage.
It would also be appropriate, given the mental health possibilities: “I’m worried about you too.”
People are more likely to make changes they think about rather than what they’re asked to make, so you can throw the ball to them like, “I’d like to know what you would do if you were at my square.
Presenting all of this with anger risks putting her on the defensive. Presented calmly, however, it serves as an invitation to him to admit difficult things. She might not accept it, but you can encourage her to, “Please don’t be afraid to say something that will hurt me. I just prefer to know the truth. Especially if I can help.
That’s what you want at this point. You want to know what hurt or absence she’s trying to entertain, so she can – ideally with your participation, support, encouragement – address it through a human connection instead.
Dear Caroline: My husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary in March. It’s a second marriage for both of us. We’ve been through a lot – the pandemic, health and fertility issues, and multiple family deaths – and we’ve come out of it stronger, so I wanted to do professional portraits.
We were unable to convince my husband’s ex-wife to cooperate in choosing a date when my 10 year old daughter-in-law would be available. Initially she mentioned concerns about covid safety which is reasonable. So we pushed the date back twice but eventually we started running out of options and now we have to do it next weekend or else I’ll lose my rather hefty deposit. Besides, I want the pictures.
We have twins who are 2 years old and will definitely be in the portraits, wearing outfits that coordinate with ours. Initially, my husband wasn’t comfortable excluding his eldest, but now he’s fed up with his ex and wants to do the portraits anyway. I also want to continue, I just wish there was a way to force her ex to cooperate. What are we doing?
How many attempts? : As many attempts as it takes.
Because it is not a deposit, no matter how heavy. At least explain your situation to the photographer, who may have both heart and some leeway.
And oh my god, please tell me you two aren’t ready to kick your stepdaughter out because you’re being sarcastic with his ex-wife? No, oh no. Please.
Imagine a vindictive ex using it as leverage: “See? They don’t care about you. [Shudder.]
I know as I write this that everything that was going to happen here has already happened, thanks to my production schedule. So I’m going to suggest something incredibly presumptuous financially: if you sat down for the photographer without your daughter-in-law, toss the photos and reshoot.
A child’s sense of belonging is the foundation of his strength until it becomes a sense independent of himself. Even the most sensitively introduced new babies can alienate older ones, more so those from a new marriage than those from previous ones.
You made it clear that this portrait is a statement. To create your yay-us family statement without 20% of your family – without a doubt, without question, more vulnerable 20%? Simply not.
Throw away everything to make it suitable to frame that you are not a family without it.
What if you were waiting? So I’m relieved and grateful that you came before me. Congratulations on five years.