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What's Bothering You?

Is there something really bothering you about your husband, wife, or life partner? Maybe enough that you're wondering why you should stay together?

Do you feel deprived of romance?

Are you sure your mate has no respect for who you are and what you do?

Is this a second marriage where your mate just cannot get along with your teen?

Do you long for the sort of sex life others seem to enjoy?

Are you now the sole breadwinner through no choice of your own?

Do all the chores seem to belong to you, even though both of you work?

Are you reeling from discovering your mate had an affair?

Or are you just tired of being yelled at or argued with?

A little thought experiment for you: imagine your mate's doctor just informed the two of you that your spouse or life partner has contracted an awful new infection. There is no cure yet, but you are in little to no danger of catching it.

Of those who have contracted this infection, eight out of every ten have died within a week and needed hospitalization for their last 24 to 48 hours. The other two out of ten have recovered. So far, there is no way to predict who is likely to make it.

Sit with this for a bit. How would you spend the next week? Will you stay and care for your spouse? Take time off from work? Let any other responsibilities slide? Do anything special together?

Your needs won't change. What will you do during this week about the one that has been bothering you so much?

If your mate dies, what will become of this problem? Will it go away? Get easier to deal with? Or get worse?

Not knowing what the outcome of the infection will be, will you expect your partner to do anything for you while it is still possible? Or will you forget your own needs to meet his or hers? If he or she survives, will you expect a payback for this week? Or does it seem like giving will be its own reward?

Which outcome do you hope for? Do you look forward to getting out of your marriage so easily and with all the assets instead of divorcing? Or are you hoping to be one of the 20% of couples who go on dealing with their problems?

Someone is knocking loudly and urgently on the door to the doctor's office. Are you two holding hands? In each other's arms? Sitting apart, stunned? The man at the door pulls the doctor out into the hall.

Someone mixed up the blood work. Your mate is fine. Someone else is going to go through all this, not you two. You may resume your marriage.

Or you just might want to make a few changes in it, if you are just a bit clearer now about what really matters to you.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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