Black and white people are doomed to hard lives

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I have been married for 25 years and have two kids. Getting married wasn’t in my plans until Bea got pregnant and told me she was going to have the baby whether I wanted to be the father or not. I’m not the kind of man who can walk away from a situation like that, so I decided to stay. We got married when Bea was 7 month along.

I have been unhappy, but in a holding pattern, for a long time now. I’m not sure I was ever happy in the marriage, but in the beginning, there was so much to deal with I didn’t have time to think. After that, my business took me on the road a lot so I could keep the marriage in the background if I wanted to, except for day to day chores, tasks and house maintenance.

Recently, I have had more time to think. The result is that I feel like driving my car into a tree and ending it all. I have never had a close emotional tie with Bea; we’ve run our family like a business. It all feels empty and meaningless, but I don’t see how I can abandon my family at this point. I would feel so guilty that it would undermine my self-confidence and energy. In addition, I have my own business and my wife takes calls and helps with the schedule while I am on the road. A new assistant is out of the question since business has fallen off in our bad economy. And how would I pay for a divorce?

I would like to find out what else is out there before I’m totally over the hill- I’m 65 now. But at this point, the idea of starting over makes me feel exhausted…and I just don’t have the financial resources for it. I feel trapped. I can’t afford therapy because my minimalist Medicare doesn’t cover it. Do you have any ideas for me? Those trees are looking better and better all the time.


Mr. Tree

Dear Mr. Tree

You can’t solve a bad decision by another even worse decision. If you kill yourself not only is it abandoning your family and any sense of responsibility you had in the first place- it’s the surest way to screw up your kids forever.

Life is not an all or nothing proposition. It seems that is how you have been making your decisions from the get go.   All or nothing people always have more difficult lives than those who can negotiate the gray areas.

You don’t have to start over and you needn’t throw out what you have built over the years. Marriage is a business and you have to invest in it.  This is done by investing both in the relationship and in yourself.  You need to create new experiences with your wife- travel, explore. And you need to join a group and develop friendships for yourself.  A full life isn’t dependent upon any one part but rather a balance of all of them.

The real point isn’t that you knocked up someone you didn’t love and did the responsible thing. That’s over half the relationships in the known world. The real issue is that you have no skills at creating balance, investing in yourself and others, negotiating or communicating.

Marriage isn’t magic; it involves skills, building respect, communicating, working together and dealing with all the shit life throws at you with a partner you can rely on. The idea of a magic marriage is really Disney BS.

You’ve been with this woman and she has put up with your nonsense for a long time. She is as least as tenacious as you. You are probably equally matched. This could be the makings of a relationship or the setting for war.  Either choice takes work.

Medicare does pay for therapy but requires a co-pay. A licensed therapist has the option to take Medicare; most don’t but some do.  Look for one.  They can help you identify and work on the skills you need before you can have a successful relationship with anyone.

I recommend reading  The Death of Cupid: Reclaiming the Wisdom of Love, Dating, Romance and Marriage by Shimon Apisdorf and Nachum  Braverman available used  at Amazon. It might be out of print otherwise.  This will help you start the conversation with your wife that you need in order to build a relationship based on skills and intent vs. one based on fantasy.


Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: You’re 65 and you are just now thinking about  what is else out there?

I would like to spare you a whole lot of regret over what you did not do and what might be out there. Your life so far has been your choice- the marriage, the kids and the work that takes you away from home. Another person might have made other choices. The life you are living is the life you preferred over whatever alternative you could think of.

I don’t think you are being entirely straight with us- I suspect there is another woman in this mix somewhere, because a man in his 60’s doesn’t think about changing the habits of a lifetime just out of curiosity. If I am right, this would be a BIG mistake.

My guess is that you have never fully participated in your life…what makes you think that if you weren’t married you’d suddenly jump in and start LIVING? What makes you think it is your wife that is holding you back?

Changing the scenery is not going to change YOU. If you want your life to be more fulfilling, you have to participate in it. I don’t think you’ve even begun to know what is possible between you and your wife; but if she has stuck by you this long, you have something that most single people would kill for- a partner who is going to stick with you until the end. Don’t throw that out…or I promise you- those trees will start looking even better than they do now.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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12 Responses to Black and white people are doomed to hard lives

  1. Still Young says:

    I don’t agree with Dr. Brilliant and Granny 100%.

    Being 65 doesn’t mean you should stop living and be content with what you have! Or does it mean that there is someone else out there and I don’t think it will be a BIG mistake.

    Tree did make the choice and own up to his responsibilities and didn’t walk away from Bea or the kids, which is more than what most people are doing nowadays; that is why there is so many single parent families.

    I don’t think it is his wife or family that is holding him back, but his commitment to the life that he tolerated. Everyone deserves some happiness. He is probably in a good place, where the kids are old enough to start their own family and he has enough saved to continue to provide support to the family.

    I think he should talk to his wife and express his frustrations, dreams, etc. Maybe Bea has the same dreams too and they can travel, see the world, etc. Or maybe, Bea is not the love of his life and he is looking for her. Why should he stop and give up any dreams at 65? Bea may agree with him and let him test the water. The bottom line is that Tree needs to communicate with Bea. Through communication, things will work out!

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    • Dear Still Young,

      I agree he needs to communicate with Bea. You might be right. Maybe Bea feels just as trapped and is only with him feeling she was doing the right thing too. If they had communicated all along they might not be in this spot now. Black and white thinkers don’t often think to communicate as they often feel its stay or go/ success or fail and that is it. They have already done all the negotiation in their own head. Reality is rarely as we think it should be. Maybe if they communicated Tree might find Bea is the love of his life? Stranger things have happened.

      Dr. Brilliant Cliche

  2. Ken Bryant says:

    How much of this rumination about your so called “boring life” is real and how much has been building up in your own assumptions? It sounds like most of your conclusions about your feelings have not been the result of any conversations with your wife. It sounds like you’re guilty about your feelings and are battling yourself. Take a walk. Read an interesting book. Take your wife out on a date. Get back into the real world and out of yourself. Then you’ll not feel so lonely.

    • Dear Ken,

      Exactly! Black and white people live in their head and don’t know to challenge their thoughts via outside sources. How do you know what you don’t know when you think what you know is all to be known???

      Dr. Brilliant Cliché

  3. Relating says:

    I know exactly how Tree is feeling. I am there! I have been unhappy for the past 35 years of my marriage. I did everything a loving husband would do and always lived up to my responsibilities. The only part that I agree with Dr. Cliche is not drive into the tree, but rest of the reply is totally false and from a person who doesn’t have a need to in-love with another. Dying is NOT a solution! There is so much to live for and even still be able to find that true love, which a friend of mine did in her 80’s.

    Marriage isn’t easy or just a simple contract!! Marriages fail because of the lack of emotions between two people or even from one. Going out on a date and spending time with the other person may not be the solution. I did all that and nothing changed in our relationship. I bought here expensive gifts and supporting her in her decisions; I’m still lonely and unhappy. If Tree and Bea are newlyweds, maybe the advise is applicable, but NOT for someone who has stuck it out for this long, like me and so many others. It is also very wrong for anyone to assume that there is another person. What about just wanting to start living regardless of the age and find true love?!

    Tree, talk to Bea, explain to her of your situation. And, LIVE!!!! You are not too old at 65 and there is so much to live for!

    • Dear Relating,

      Sometimes chronic long term depression isn’t anybody’s fault. And as such won’t change no matter who someone is with or what they do. In these cases medication can make a huge difference. Counseling is always a good idea as well but as medications can help with actual perception everything sometimes changes when one is on them.
      Before Tree or anyone else makes a huge leap I recommend see someone and discuss it. Wherever you go, wherever you leap, you take yourself with you. As people can only know what they know people often leap from the frying pan into the fire doing the same thing again and again. Most people are with someone, few are in a relationship with that person as the skills necessary to have a relationship aren’t readily taught in our culture. The Fantasy of the future can’t become the future without the behaviors and skills necessary for it to actually happen.

      Dr. B.C.

    • Agree w/Related says:

      I agree with you 100%. It is obvious that he tried, just as you did. Sometimes that is not enough. And yes, driving into a tree is not a solution. Talk it out, if that does not help, then maybe the only health solution is to move on. Life is always worth fighting for!

  4. Mimi says:

    Doing the so called right thing is not necessarily the best option. Tree has followed the straight and narrow path, keeping himself guilt free, but alone. I spent 25 years in a marriage that was a mistake, hindsight tells me he never loved me, But I gave my word, I made a commitment; two things that I take very seriously. As such, I was unhappy. I changed from a confident young woman to an insecure, indecisive shell of the woman I used to be. During the 25 years of my marriage, there was depression and its hazards. Finally, after years of trying to please, I said enough. My daughter almost all grown, i decided it was time. Within a month he moved out, and within a year we were divorced. It was a friendly divorce, and we talk today. That’s Bea and Tree must talk. We only know his side of the story, we do not know how she feels. She also has spent all these years married, either happily or just as sad. She deserves the respect of an honest conversation. Fighting and suicide attempts are not worth it (believe me I know first hand).

    Now, reaching my late 40’s, I still did not know what love really was. I thought it was only the stuff of fairy tales, and maybe few rare people might luck on to it. That was until a friend introduced me a man that is truly my mate. We based our foundation on communication, open and honest, and reciprocity – both giving, both receiving. We discuss everything, respecting our differences. And I cannot see myself without him in my life. Yeah, I spent 25 years in an unhappy marriage, but everything has its purposed, and I look at it this way, it lead me to my new love. It is now, at 48 years old I obtained a long awaited BS degree, on my way to my MS, and found my soulmate. Its not too late to live. Just make sure each decision you make is one you can hold you head up to, knowing you did the right thing, the fair thing for all parties involved. Who knows, talking it out with Bea might shed new light on things.

  5. Dear Mimi,

    As you implied there is no “right thing.” The world isn’t black and white. People stay in unequal and unhappy relationships for many reasons but there are consequences. As there are in leaving. A marriage should be a conversation between two people if it isn’t then there is no relationship. Maybe counseling can jump start that conversation. But if it doesn’t then letting each other go to find a better match and a better life is the adult thing to do. If there are kids involved, Kids don’t suffer from an adult role modeling adult behaviors. Kids only suffer when one or both parents act as if they were children themselves. I am glad you improved your life. That improves the lives of everyone you touch.

    Dr. Brilliant Cliché

    • Mimi says:

      Thank you, I agree that conversation and as necessary counseling are extremely beneficial. But kid can be harmed from poor marriages, even if both act as good role models. Often they repeat what they see. If they see a loving, engaging couple as their parents, they will know that at the norm… if they see distance, or apparent room-mates, they will see that as the norm. Staying in a failed marriage, after true attempts to make it work, only harms the mental health of the children involved.

      • I absolutely agree. That’s part of what I what I meant by being an adult. Sometimes a spousectomy is the best treatment. Humans learn via Role modeling thus Role modeling means everything. Role modeling not taking crap is as important as role modeling working things out. Role modeling good equal in power relationships with respect and negotiation skills is the surest way to have ones kids have good relationships as well.

  6. Granny says:

    No one is telling Tree he shouldn’t live. I am telling him that the ability to live isn’t going to be found by changing the scenery.
    Jumping out of a tree won’t enable someone to fly.
    Should you NOT try to fly? Don’t be ridiculous! Of course you should try to fly!
    But not by jumping out of a tree. Or driving into one.
    I’m also telling him that the world he imagines is just that- imaginary.
    He has a long-standing situation that he’s never tried to make real.
    Dating isn’t the answer- paying some freakin’ attention and TRYING might be an answer.

    you’re right- I could be assuming there’s another woman when there isn’t.
    But I’ve known a lot of men who suddenly wanted to leave long-standing relationships.
    I have never seen a case where another woman wasn’t involved.
    But you are right. It could happen.

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