Dear Annie: I need to know how to handle my father, who is mean and hateful toward me.
I am 52, and my earliest memories are of this man physically and emotionally abusing me. When I was 10, he would kick me across the yard, call me “tramp” and “slut,” and say I would never amount to anything. My mother saw everything and allowed it to happen. She is still married to him.
My father has managed to embarrass me at work by being a tyrant, calling me every name in the book and threatening to punch me in the face in front of my co-workers. I have other siblings, but they did not suffer as much abuse as I did.
Now that my father is 75 and needs care, how can I be expected to help? To everyone outside the family, he comes across as a decent person, but I want nothing to do with him for as long as he lives.
— No Signature, Please
Dear No: You are not obligated to take care of an abusive parent simply because he needs help. However, if you can afford it, you might choose to offer some financial assistance as a gift to your siblings who will undoubtedly be stuck arranging your father’s care. They may not have suffered as much abuse as you, but certainly their childhood could not have been easy. Contributing financially will ease their burden and alleviate whatever sense of responsibility you may have, without forcing you to deal directly with your father.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 21 years, and he doesn’t seem to be attracted to me anymore. He denies this, but he ignores me and prefers to work on his motorcycle, read or sleep rather than spend time with me.
My husband is often tired from work and goes to sleep after our 10-year-old goes to bed at 8:30. When I come into the bedroom, he doesn’t even look up. There is no affection unless I ask. He is already taking testosterone, so that is not the issue. We have tried counseling and setting up romantic “dates,” but nothing has worked.
I know I am a good wife. I deserve my husband’s love and affection. I am not overweight and still look good at 56. I don’t believe he is interested in anyone else, but in the past, he has had a problem with pornography. He blamed it on not getting enough sex. I was very hurt that he did not discuss it with me.
Our church is holding a marriage retreat in a couple of months, and I’d like to attend, but my husband says he’s not interested. I don’t want a divorce, but I don’t want to feel unloved, either.
Dear Miserable: It will be difficult to ascertain why your husband is no longer interested in you if he is unwilling to discuss it. Some men have a hard time understanding their own motivations and feel it is somehow “not masculine” to talk about intimacy. But they do a disservice to their wives, their marriages and themselves by being so taciturn. Please go back to your counselor on your own and get some help.
Dear Annie: “Gone to the Gym” said, “Doctors are in the business of keeping people healthy, and their nurses should be models of good health.” What she means is, nurses should be skinny.
Skinny does not equal healthy. My daughter was diagnosed with a hypothyroid condition at 13 and struggles with her weight. She eats healthfully and works out, but there is no cure. She has been subjected to taunts from cruel high school students who know nothing of her condition, only that she is not a size zero. “Gone to the Gym’s” judgmental attitude is disgusting.
— Outraged in California
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