Dear Annie: I’ve been married for 47 years to a man who is 13 years older than I am. He reminds me often that he is 86 and set in his ways.
For much of our marriage, I have carried the load around the house, but now it is worse. My husband barely does anything. At least he has a hobby that keeps him busy. Otherwise, he would sit in our den recliner watching TV all day.
I mostly confine myself to our bedroom because if I set foot in the den, it becomes a shouting match since he cannot hear me because the TV is so loud. And he gets angry if I ask him to turn it down. He got a new TV for Father’s Day, and I am barely allowed to watch it. He doesn’t even have the courtesy to listen or speak to me if he is reading the newspaper.
I know where I am on the totem pole. I get no respect from him. I guess things are not going to get better. I went as far as packing my bags and renting a car. You would think that would have made a difference, but no such luck.
I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems, especially my children. I have cried many nights. It helps simply to unburden myself to you, but I know it won’t last. What do I do?
— An Unhappy Prisoner
Dear Unhappy: Your husband has decided to settle into a sedentary old age, and you aren’t ready for that. But marriage vows include “in sickness and in health,” and this is part of the deal. Unless you are looking to divorce him, we recommend you immerse yourself in your own hobbies and interests. If the TV is too loud, see whether you can find amplifying headphones that he is willing to use. Don’t try to converse with him when he’s watching. Get out of the house instead. You’re not a “prisoner.”
Meet friends for dinner. Work out at the health club. Ask a girlfriend to go to the movies. Take the grandchildren on a field trip. Join a choir or community theater. Find ways to keep yourself occupied so you are fulfilled and content, and so that your problems with Hubby recede into the background of your life.
Dear Annie: I am having a party for my child’s first birthday. We are already overrun with toys in our home. Right now, he prefers to play with mixing bowls and boxes rather than store-bought toys.
Is it proper to indicate on the invitation “no toys, please”? We’d much rather get clothing or money to put into a college fund.
— Grateful Mama of Little One
Dear Mama: It is never appropriate to tell your guests what they should get you. Unless you want to ask people to bring a toy to donate to charity (a lovely idea), you should not specify anything on the invitations. If people should ask, it is OK to tell them your preferences, and you also can make suggestions to one or two people and ask them to spread the word. Otherwise, return the gifts or give them to a charity so underprivileged children can get something for the holidays.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Enough Is Enough,” whose boyfriend’s family can’t forgive her for an indiscretion with her ex-boyfriend.
Some people are unable to place their spouses first when they marry. I never cheated on my husband, but anytime it came to my needs, e.g., “I don’t want your mother smoking in our house,” he’d ignore me and hand his mom an ashtray. Even though his sister was stealing my jewelry, he gave her a set of keys to our house because “they’re family.” He never quite understood that his primary allegiance should have been to his wife.
I divorced him, and he’s now back living with the woman he really loves: Mommy.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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