Ask the LifeQuake Doctor/Sep-Oct Counselor Magazine
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am not an addict so this may not be your typical letter asking for advice. My wife, however, is a newly licensed psychotherapist who carries this magazine in her office.
To give you a little back story: she went back to school when our kids got into high school and then was an intern for two years and now is a full fledged therapist in her first office. Our kids are away at college. I am a businessman. There is a 10 years age difference between us. Not only is she in private practice, but she also is a political activist for children’s rights.
I have had a very successful career but at age 60 but am wanting to gear down more and possibly retire in two years. We can well afford it. My wife on the other hand, is ready to go big in her career. I have been having disturbing dreams in which I find out she isn’t a therapist but has become a famous actress or is being pursued by men closer to her age or younger. I also have had dreams about being naked in public and feeling uncomfortable.
I trust my wife. She has given me no reason not to trust her but I have become increasingly insecure lately. Sometimes she makes plans that don’t involve me with her girlfriends on the weekend and doesn’t consult me first and it bothers me. She has always been very independent, even as a housewife and mother when our kids were young but I did feel she needed me more then.
I don’t know if I should talk to her about this or work it out myself. I don’t want her to think of me as being unmanly or hung up on aging and I don’t know, quite frankly, what she can do about it anyway.
What do you think, doc? Should I talk to her about this?
Confused in Newport
Part of having a truly intimate relationship involves sharing your vulnerability. Your dream about being naked in public and feeling uncomfortable indicates that your persona is changing. You are being called by your soul to be more transparent and it feels scary. I would encourage you to first sit with this vulnerability without trying to change it at all. Breathe into it and allow it to feel safe with you, unjudged. Notice if it shifts. As you become more comfortable with your “emotional nakedness”, bring her into your awareness. Call upon your higher self (the full potential you) and ask this part to speak non-verbally to your wife about your fears. Notice how she responds in your mind’s eye. How does that feel now on a scale of 1-10, 10 being strongest?
If your anxiety has dissipated to a 3 or less, then it is time to share your process with your wife.
When a couple becomes empty nesters, it is time to redefine the contract you have had and update it. As your wife is becoming more visible in the community and thus having greater commitments, there is an opportunity for you to explore personal development of your own. I recommend getting the catalogue for Esalen in Big Sur, California and The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. As you become less of the hunter/provider, workshops could provide opportunities for inner exploration. As you grow, you have something to bring back to your relationship to share that in some ways is a part of her world too since she is professionally going into the world of psycho-spiritual growth.
I would also recommend that you think about a trip that would be an adventure or spiritual quest of some kind that you do solo. All of these experiences not only will evolve you but also provide the material for juicy conversations when you return to one another that maybe your business life did not. Having the economic freedom you now have can allow you to take on your bucket list while still staying connected to your spouse.
Given that she is a therapist and not an actress (lol), she will most likely find your curiosity and enthusiasm for your newly created life very attractive. All people are attracted to people who have lives that turn them on.
There is a great Act 3 waiting for you and opportunity for you both to grow as you shed the roles of Mom and Dad as a predominant theme in relating to one another. In my work as a career coach, I love working with people who are entering what I call Act 3 – the final 1/3 (hopefully) in their lives. Most babyboomers do not want to retire in their 60’s, but like the Millenials want their lives to have meaningful purpose. Keep the dialogue between you open as you both make this transition and I see great things ahead for your marriage and your individual paths.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist, author of The LifeQuake Phenomenonand a well known consultant/expert on career repurposing as part of recovery in the addiction field.
If you have a question for The LifeQuake Doctor, you can write to her through: firstname.lastname@example.org by calling 310-890-6832. She works by phone and SKYPE in private practice. Her website is http://www.thelifequakedoctor.com