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My wife has disconnected from me. She’s seeing a co-worker and doesn’t know I know: Ask Ellie

Q: We’ve been married for 19 years, our daughter’s away at university, our son’s 14, living at home. My wife has put distance between us for the last few years and hasn’t slept in the same room with me for 18 months.

© Thomas Barwick/Stone Sub/Getty Images "Focus intensely on the actions that bring happiness into your life," writes Nelson Wang, and try to cut out the rest. Of course, telling a coworker that you can't proofread her project report or a friend that you can't make his birthday party is easier said than done. Try offering an alternative when you say "no" — for example, "I can't read the document today, but here are my two biggest tips for writing a project report." And don't feel the need to apologize — you aren't doing anything wrong by saying "no."

By Ellie - Advice Columnist, Toronto Star

Q: We’ve been married for 19 years, our daughter’s away at university, our son’s 14, living at home. My wife has put distance between us for the last few years and hasn’t slept in the same room with me for 18 months. Conversation has become rude, then turned to silence today.

She also hasn’t cooked any meals at home during that time. She’s either at work or sleeping at home. I’ve been cooking or buying meals for our son.

Recently, I found proof that she’s become closer to a man, her co-worker. On many occasions, she’d lead us to believe that she works multiple shifts in a day, with an unpredictable schedule due to the nature of the work.

Many of those double shifts weren’t true. She was actually leaving our house and going straight to his house, not far away.

I never revealed what I knew, only asked for time to chat with her. She rejected this outright, saying that she was tired and had no intention to chat at all with me.

What should I do to save this marriage when she rejects conversation?

Should I reveal that I actually know where she spends her time while not working?

The Confused Man

A: There’s no advantage to you or the children in helping her keep up the pretence that she’s still a partner in your marriage.

Your son is old enough to know that his mother has abandoned any role at home.

There’s also no advantage to you or the marriage to suddenly produce your proof in a heavy-handed “caught-you” manner.

Instead, tell her calmly, that you know she’s heavily involved with her co-worker and that you need to discuss what her intentions are about the marriage and children.

Now, here’s the choice: I believe in this case that you should first discuss with a lawyer what you want to happen, as well as what you believe will happen. And then get advice on how to proceed once you’ve raised the subject with her.

I say this because she’s already invested many months in doing as she pleases and thinking you know nothing about what’s really going on. So she’s likely to waste the opportunity to talk but insisting you’re wrong.

However, once you’re more aware of the legal obligations and responsibilities involved, you can simply say, 1) that you have proof of her activities away from home; 2) that if she’s wanting to separate, these are the decisions to be made about the children, the house and your joint finances.

That should get the two of you talking.

© Richard Lautens When a marriage reaches an impasse, silence is useless, writes advice columnist Ellie Tesher.

Q: My extremely difficult co-worker is incompetent, rude, immature, petty and spiteful.

He’s often muttering under his breath about someone doing him wrong.

But he does a personality transformation when our boss is around.

I’m a hard-working, well-liked contract worker currently trying to gain permanency in my current role. My boss acknowledges that I’m completely carrying this co-worker.

However, this person is a permanent worker. And it’s widely known that our boss prefers workers who don’t complain or add stress to their life in anyway.

Need Ideas

A: Some options to consider: Bosses generally like problem-solvers. You could find a better placement in the company for this man. Or you could offer to start a training program for slackers, if it moved you to a permanent position.

Or, you could accept that your help to this co-worker already brings you favour and hopefully advancement in time.

Or, start looking for another job.

Ellie’s tip of the day

When a marriage reaches an impasse, silence is useless. Face your difficult choices.

Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto.

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Career Magazine: My wife has disconnected from me. She’s seeing a co-worker and doesn’t know I know: Ask Ellie
My wife has disconnected from me. She’s seeing a co-worker and doesn’t know I know: Ask Ellie
Q: We’ve been married for 19 years, our daughter’s away at university, our son’s 14, living at home. My wife has put distance between us for the last few years and hasn’t slept in the same room with me for 18 months.
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