Dear Amy: I'm 41, my wife is 34 and we've been married for 15 years. We have two children, ages 14 and eight.
Our marriage has been difficult, mainly due to my PTSD from Iraq and an opioid addiction. Once I got sober, I shut out the world.
My wife stuck with me through all of this, but 18 months ago she confessed to a short-lived affair.
We've decided to reconcile. I've changed as far as being avoidant, but I'm so profoundly affected by her affair that I have a hard time getting through the day without being angry or sad.
I know I was a crappy husband. She wasn't perfect, either, but this whole thing about her stepping out is crushing. I'm trying to forgive, she's working hard on everything, and yet I often feel very empty and lonely, as well as angry.
We've had counseling for about 14 months, but I feel like I need to find healing for me, not just the marriage. Any advice?
Amy says: You definitely need healing — for you. You don't mention what, if any, treatment you've had for your PTSD, but I urge you to start, continue or resume treatment. Ideally this would involve therapy. Loneliness, emptiness, sadness, isolation and especially anger are all residual effects of PTSD, and private as well as group counseling with other veterans would help you to continue to heal.
To me, you seem like a fierce and resilient survivor. I hope you can learn to see yourself that way, too.
You can connect with local services for veterans by going through the VA. You can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988 and pressing 1. (You can still reach the crisis line with the previous phone number, 800-273-8255 and press 1, by text at 838255, and through chat on the website VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat).
A case of the blahs
Dear Amy: I am a man in midlife. My wife and I get along very well and co-parent our three children.
My wife keeps busy outside of our jobs and family life with friends and occasional pickleball matches. She seems to be thriving.
Me? Not so much. I am deep into the blahs, and I'm not sure what to do about it. My friends and I don't seem to jell with each other the way my wife and her friends do.
Do you have any thoughts on how to enhance my life?
Amy says: I'd consider regular exercise, whether it is on your own or with a group. If you sing or play an instrument, a "dad band" might be a fun diversion. Check social media for postings.
As for pickleball, you and your wife might not be able to play mixed doubles because of your parenting duties, but you should look into whether this sport could help to pull you out of your blahs.
See ya later
Dear Amy: I was touched by the letter from the retired man whose wife insisted he get out of the house every day. About a month into my father's retirement, when we were all sitting down for lunch, my mother said, "Honey, I married you for better or worse. But not for lunch.
"I want you to go to your studio, (he was an artist) for at least four hours a day. I don't care what you do there. Read the paper, paint, have an affair. Anything. Just please get out of the kitchen."
Amy says: I hope your mother's message was well received and helpful.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.