(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Here is an email I received, from Mrs. Rossi. See what you think about this.
“Dear Dr. Kenner. My husband Ernie is in the military, and before he joined, he was somewhat romantic. Now there isn’t a romantic bone in his body. Can you tell me what I should do? Our marriage is just ‘hello, goodbye.’ Thank you, Mrs. Rossi.”
Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is to do some detective work. Why is my marriage just “hello and goodbye?” Does he have a honey on the side? Amazing how many times I’ve seen that. Is he gay? Is he just overwhelmed with his involvement in the military and he’s becoming a Type A personality and he avoids intimacy? Is there some trauma involved? Does he feel guilty about something? Talk with him. Try to draw him out. Instead of saying to him, “I’m sick and tired of being ignored. You’ve got no sense of romance. You treat me like dirt. You better change or else.” Those types of threats, personal attacks and sarcasm backfire.
This is what you can do – remind him of your most romantic moments with him. Say, “Honey, I remember the time you brought me lunch and left me a romantic note in it. I thought about you all afternoon. I couldn’t wait to come home to you. I remember the backrubs we used to give each other and going dancing with you and how playful it would be. I miss that so much and I wonder if you’re missing it too? You seem wrapped up in your work. Help me understand you better. I wonder if there’s anything else behind the scenes that you’re keeping from me and that would help us explain why the fire has gone out of the marriage? What thoughts do you have on how we can recapture that playfulness and tenderness together? Or what is it I need to know to make sense of where we’re at right now? Help me out.” I would try to draw him out so that it encourages him to talk and the mystery is solved. Also, look around for clues. You may find lipstick on the collar.
Female: I just have so many questions I want to ask you. You have no idea what your work means to me. Oh come on. Just a couple of questions? How hard is that? How do you write women so well?
Male: I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.
Dr. Kenner: That’s from As Good as it Gets. Can you imagine having that type of passion and just wanting to know and tell me more, how do you write so well? I’m eager to know? And the guy looks at you as if you’re a total flake and just says, “I take away reason and accountability.” Total sarcasm. If you’re living with someone like that – not just dealing with them on a chance basis – but if you’re living with someone who constantly gives you quick answers that are sarcastic, undercutting, belittling, take a closer look. Learn how to stand up for yourself and don’t take it from them. If you have the option of leaving the relationship or marriage, that’s possible. Try doing that. Or try drawing them out to find out what’s underlying their anger, their resentment, their feeling that it’s not fair, their use of sarcasm. Try to draw them out and get to the core of it. Otherwise, they’ll keep going and your life will just feel like one hopeless, chronic struggle and you don’t want to have that.