Dear Annie: After more than 40 years of devotion to my husband, I have finally realized what a stonehearted jerk he is. I have done everything in my power to love, respect and encourage him. But I’ve fallen into a pattern of picking up the pieces of my heart and overlooking my own hurt in order to give him another chance and keep peace in our home.
All of this is “not important” to him, as he has told me numerous times. My marriage is terribly lonely. Year after year, his disinterest and disregard for my feelings have chipped away at the love I once had. I have fought hard to stay in his life, and he tells me, “So what?” and “Leave if you want to.” My pleadings fall on deaf ears, and he refuses to discuss it.
I have raised our children and worked beside him and also outside the home. I have contributed as much as he has to build our life together. This is obviously not how I envisioned our retirement, but I have had enough and am finally ready to begin a new life without him. Where do I start?
Dear Beyond: With counseling. Not necessarily to save your marriage, but to help you move forward in whatever direction helps you. After 40 years, there may be a great deal of grief for the loss of your relationship, fear of the unknown future, worry about finances and loneliness, as well as the need to forgive. You have a great many choices and adjustments to make, and counseling will help you navigate. If you choose divorce, please also see an attorney. Good luck.
Dear Annie: I have an ongoing dilemma about an extremely uncomfortable bed. My parents recently turned 80. They have a guestroom with a bed that desperately needs to be replaced. I can tolerate sleeping there if I am exhausted, but it is truly awful.
My parents are not rich, so a new bed would be a major expense. But they don’t like handouts, so buying one for them might be resented. How do I tell them that my siblings and I would prefer to buy them a new mattress rather than spend the money staying in a motel? I don’t want to embarrass or offend them.
Dear Back: Your parents don’t sleep in the guestroom and have no idea how bad the bed is, nor are they in any hurry to replace something they don’t actually use.
Their embarrassment would be temporary, so simply make the arrangements and then tell them, “Mom and Dad, it’s time to update your guestroom mattress. We’ve bought you one as a gift, since we are the ones who use it most.” Then say it’s a done deal, no argument, and give them the delivery date. It would help if one of you could be there when it arrives.
Dear Annie: I feel bad for “Puzzled in Indiana,” whose brother has multiple sclerosis. The brother is holding a grudge against Dad because he sold the family home and used the proceeds to build a new one instead of distributing the money to his kids.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 16 years ago. Some people with MS have problems with memory, reasoning, judgment and depression. The stresses of life, especially the loss of a job or a loved one, can exacerbate flare-ups. All communications should be done with this in mind.
My mother also had MS. She spent the last 10 years of her life bedridden and in pain. My advice to “Indiana” is to contact the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org) at 1-800-FIGHT-MS (1-800-344-4867).
Dear Annie: We have a number of grandchildren, and we love them all equally. Do we appear to favor some over others? Probably.
If the parents really want to know why, perhaps they should look at their children’s behavior. Some grandchildren really enjoy their grandparents, discuss their lives and show concern for them. Other grandchildren grudgingly visit, refuse to interact and often sit and sulk while texting their friends. They never say thank you for anything. All efforts to be more involved in their lives are rejected.
So, before the children’s parents complain to the grandparents about favoritism, they should examine how their children are inadvertently damaging the relationship.
Trying To Be Fair
Dear Trying: Of course some grandkids are easier to like than others, but that’s why it is so important not to show your favoritism, whether it exists or not, particularly when the children are young. Even unpleasant, remote children need to believe their grandparents love them as much as their siblings and cousins.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org