For 15 years, we’ve used a headboard that his ex-wife brought when she moved in with him. I had no idea and still feel overwhelmingly hurt by the news. He did install the new headboard that same day and has the old one ready to be disposed of. He was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 a few years ago, and since the diagnosis we’ve only been intimate a handful of times. The combination of this knowledge and our current relationship has me left feeling hurt, with almost an inadequate feeling and insecure. Do you have any advice? — Hurt By a Bed
This isn’t about a headboard; this is about your marriage being in crisis. The headboard is just a convenient place to put your fear and your anxiety and your anger and your frustration. It’s easier/less scary to be mad about a headboard and what you think it symbolizes than to try to make sense of, let alone articulate, the mixed emotions you no doubt must be feeling toward and about your marriage — and your husband — since his diagnosis. You must know that on some level or you wouldn’t have tacked it on to the end of your letter. Your hurt feelings are not the result of “a combination” of your marriage and finding out the headboard belonged to your husband’s ex. Your hurt feelings are the result of neglecting your marriage — of brushing things under the rug because they’re uncomfortable or painful or awkward to talk about. This isn’t about a headboard. This was never about a headboard.
You think most men care about a headboard? Of course not. Your husband brought that headboard into your marriage because it was a piece of furniture that functioned and looked fine. There was no symbolism attached to it. Why was it kept instead of yours? I don’t know; you would have a better answer than I — maybe it was in better shape, or newer, or more attractive, or YOU actually liked it better. Any of those are possible answers, but what is likely NOT an answer is that it reminded him of his ex-wife and he wanted to think about her every time he was in bed with you.
Come on, this isn’t about a headboard. This is about you and your husband and what’s going on in your marriage that you’ve been afraid to talk about – his diagnosis, your lack of intimacy, what’s happened to your relationship and how you can get it back on track. What are your needs? What are his? How have you failed each other and how can you do better? THESE are the topics you need to address. These are the topics that matter and that will save your marriage if you address them with open and loving hearts, with compassion and kindness, with the understanding that you are both responsible for how things are now and you are both responsible for improving the quality of your marriage.
This isn’t about a piece of furniture. This is about a piece of your soul. Speak your truth and set it free.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.