Defiant Desire: Grappling With My Sexuality in Widowhood

mental health and grief illustration naked women

My wife is sick. Stage Four sick. I must hurry home and relieve her parents who have been caring for her since I left for work at 9 a.m. and for our three-year old son since his pre-school day ended at 2 p.m. It is 6:30 p.m., but I am not rushing through the front door.

Instead, I am lying on a massage table in the back room of our local nail salon, trying not to audibly cry as my masseuse works on the knot under my right shoulder blade. The knot is excruciating, but that is not why my tears soak the paper cover of the table. I do not know her name, but I do know that she always works on Tuesday nights and I know this as well— she does not tie back her thick dark hair. My wife had thick dark hair before the chemo.

I cannot define this desire; this deep longing for another woman’s hair to tickle my back. Is this a form of adultery? Of exploitation? To pay a thick-haired stranger to soothe me in this way? Do I take advantage of my wife’s parents? Do I neglect my son who is scared and sad and needs me to come home? Because I will be late. I will blame my boss or the subway or the rain before I cop to this 20-minute reprieve. I am ashamed. I am defiant. But I know what I need. Continue reading Defiant Desire: Grappling With My Sexuality in Widowhood

Divorcing A Sociopath

phrenology head in profile

It’s been nearly four years since I left my ex-husband. When I think back to that time, I think about how naive I was, how foggy and confused. I had never heard of a personality disorder. I still believed that dangerous people would be easy to spot, that they came wielding chain saws and screaming, “I’m a dangerous person!”

Sigh. There was so much I did not know.

Continue reading Divorcing A Sociopath

Ask Anna: How Can I Pry My Husband Away from Social Media?

husband at table looking at smartphone ignoring wife

Talkspace is pleased to continue Ask Anna, a Question & Answer column featuring Anna Akbari, sociologist and author of “Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness.” Send your mental health questions for Anna to [email protected].

Dear Anna,

Before I start, I’d like to share that overall I am happy with my life. I love my husband and our two beautiful children. We have a wonderful life together, which makes this all the more confusing and difficult.

I feel like my marriage is strong for the most part. We love each other very much and respect one another. But there is a small problem (or at least what I perceive to be a problem). My husband spends most of his time on his phone. He’s constantly flipping through social media. I know he’s not doing anything wrong or dishonest on it; he will often sit right next to me and show me what he’s doing and who he’s speaking with! Continue reading Ask Anna: How Can I Pry My Husband Away from Social Media?

Ask Anna: Should I Ditch My Disappearing Husband?

woman up in bed with husband sleeping

Talkspace is pleased to introduce Ask Anna, a new Question & Answer column featuring Anna Akbari, sociologist and author of “Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness.” Send your mental health questions for Anna to [email protected].

Hi Anna,

I’m not sure how this is going to work or if you are legit or not.

I would like to start off by saying that I have always been ambitious, always looking to conquer the world. However, I haven’t finished college yet due to some body and health issues. As of now, I’m not working because I recently gave birth to my son. But let’s get to the point.

My husband works overnight at a parking lot Tuesday through Sunday. He has his days off on Mondays and every Monday he goes out without telling me where he is and gets home the next day. He has been doing this ever since the baby was born seven months ago.

He claims that he isn’t doing anything wrong, but that’s just it. I feel strongly that not being home at night and coming home still drunk the next day is definitely not right. I don’t know what to do any more. I just want to end the marriage because of how unimportant and neglected I feel. Continue reading Ask Anna: Should I Ditch My Disappearing Husband?

Talkspace Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Divorced Men

divorced dad with son on park bench

After a 25 year marriage, to the woman who I thought was the love of my life, I am now divorced and single. I know lots of men who say that divorce is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. For me that’s not the case.

While the idea of a 50% divorce rate has embedded itself in our imagination — it’s a difficult number to pin down, but it’s actually been declining since its height in 1980 — divorce remains a life-altering change that brings tremendous stress and anxiety. You’d think there’d be more support for those of us facing such a common experience. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Statistically, divorced men face a number of scary statistics:

  • Higher incidence of depression
  • 250% higher mortality rate
  • 39% higher suicide rate
  • 10X more likely to undergo psychiatric care

Divorce is still in many ways stigmatized in our society. As newlyweds we don’t imagine a marriage’s end, but even those of us whose marriage is in the process of breaking up don’t necessarily think of how to protect our mental health. There seem to be more resources for women, groups focused on providing emotional support and community. For us men, suffering in silence is the norm. We tough it out and power through. Or so we think. Continue reading Talkspace Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Divorced Men

What My Therapist Told Me After My Horrible Divorce

divorced dad carrying son field

After a 25 year marriage, to the woman who I thought was the love of my life, I am now divorced and single. I know lots of men who say that divorce is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. For me that’s not the case.

My ex-wife left me for a man 20 years younger than me. That fact alone was alone was enough to send my mind down a deep, dark rabbit hole. Any ounce of self-confidence I had quickly flew out the window. No only did I go down a path of self-loathing and sadness, but I was crushed under a mountain of legal fees (no, she did not go quietly or kindly). I felt completely duped –– as though I couldn’t even trust my own gut anymore. Where had it come from? How could I have misjudged someone for a quarter century? What had I done to make her recoil in such hate?

Before the divorce I was financially stable. We’re not talking vacation home stable, but I was able to support our five person family –– which in today’s economy — is a dream, I know. Times have changed. My life certainly has. After the divorce, I am now struggling to pay rent for the two bedroom apartment I currently live in. That part is tough, but it’s nothing compared to the pain and devastation I feel about not being able to see my kids everyday. That keeps me up at night. That gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. That aspect of this entire nightmare is what makes me want to give up on everything –– and yet, my kids are the only reason to keep going. Continue reading What My Therapist Told Me After My Horrible Divorce

Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Divorced Men

divorced dad with son on park bench

After a 25 year marriage, to the woman who I thought was the love of my life, I am now divorced and single. I know lots of men who say that divorce is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. For me that’s not the case.

While the idea of a 50% divorce rate has embedded itself in our imagination — it’s a difficult number to pin down, but it’s actually been declining since its height in 1980 — divorce remains a life-altering change that brings tremendous stress and anxiety. You’d think there’d be more support for those of us facing such a common experience. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Statistically, divorced men face a number of scary statistics:

  • Higher incidence of depression
  • 250% higher mortality rate
  • 39% higher suicide rate
  • 10X more likely to undergo psychiatric care

Divorce is still in many ways stigmatized in our society. As newlyweds we don’t imagine a marriage’s end, but even those of us whose marriage is in the process of breaking up don’t necessarily think of how to protect our mental health. There seem to be more resources for women, groups focused on providing emotional support and community. For us men, suffering in silence is the norm. We tough it out and power through. Or so we think. Continue reading Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Divorced Men

Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Single Moms

single mom holding daughter field

I was going to have my dream wedding, marry my dream man, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately adult reality does not always align with childhood dreams. My own parents divorced when I was 11. I remember how difficult it was for me to understand that they didn’t love one another any more, that my love for them both wasn’t enough. I was powerless to bring them back together. Those feelings haunted me far into my teens.

In the US, 83% of single parents are mothers. For us single mothers, solo parenting can often be joyous, but it also brings tremendous stress and anxiety.

You’d think there’d be more support for such a common experience, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Statistically, we face a number of scary statistics:

  • More than half live below the poverty line
  • 28.7% face severe mental disability
  • Twice as high an incidence of anxiety disorders as single fathers

Single parenthood is still in many ways stigmatized in our society. Not every single mother imagined parenting by herself, but even those of us who did, didn’t necessarily think of how to protect our mental health. While there are some resources for us, groups focused on providing emotional support and community, many still suffer in silence. Many are afraid to ask for help.

Though women are more likely to reach out to their support network, or just to talk about their struggles, we often face more difficult challenges than those of single fathers. Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women, and we’re also more likely to be raising the children. That means increased responsibility and financial burden. Continue reading Online Therapy is The #1 Tool for Single Moms