Dear Annie: I need to know how to deal with my husband’s loss of emotion.
He is in his late 50s, and I am in my mid-40s. He used to hold my hand in the car and spontaneously grab me to dance when the stereo was on. He’d kiss me on the neck while I was working in the kitchen.
But not anymore. He doesn’t even let me cuddle up to him when we’re watching a movie.
And it’s more than that. He doesn’t get excited about seeing the grandkids. He is blase about family gatherings and vacation trips.
I would suspect he was depressed, but he still enjoys playing his computer games and watching sports on TV, and he keeps up his household chores.
When I tried to talk to him about it, he said men aren’t supposed to show emotion and he’s just getting old. When I suggested counselling, he flat-out refused. He told me, “Go ahead on your own if you need to waste money.”
I feel emotionally divorced. He won’t discuss it.
Do you have any suggestions on how to motivate him or maybe slam him with a dose of reality so he can see how much this affects me? Could I have done something to cause this? — Emotional Roommate
Dear Roommate: Not likely. Your husband may be depressed in spite of the computer games and TV.
He also may fear aging and becoming less physically capable, and by shutting down his response to you, he may have shut down a lot of other things, as well.
You can’t force him to get counselling, but you might recommend he get a complete physical and alert his doctor to the problem in advance.
Dear Annie: “Becky” and I have been friends since high school. We both have young children now, and they are usually the topic of our conversations.
The problem is, Becky constantly points out things about my children in a negative way. My nine-year-old daughter loves history, science and biography, and noticing her extensive non-fiction library, Becky said, “She doesn’t have much of an imagination.” When our children were playing together, my younger daughter tripped and fell, and Becky casually remarked, “She’s awfully clumsy, isn’t she?”
I defend my children when she says these thoughtless things, but it doesn’t matter.
I’m not sure if she’s being competitive or just inconsiderate. I don’t want to lose this friendship, so what do I do? — Confused in Omaha
Dear Omaha: We think she’s being competitive. The fact that these comments are also inconsiderate is incidental.
Becky points out your children’s flaws in order to make her kids seem superior.
It’s a sign of insecurity, and it isn’t going to stop until she recognizes what she is doing. The next time it happens, tell her you are sorry she feels the need to belittle your children and you’d like her to stop.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Heartbroken in N.C.” could have been written by me.
Several years ago, my daughter-in-law decided we didn’t see eye to eye and terminated their relationship with me. I blame my son for letting it happen.
I suffered a heart attack and flatlined twice. My son was notified and still did not contact me. After spending countless days crying, I decided enough was enough. I went to a craft sale and met some ladies who invited me to join a nonprofit organization. Then I joined several other organizations and began volunteering with hospice. I have been going strong for seven years.
Tell “Heartbroken” that it’s time for her to get involved in something that interests her.
Four years ago, my son reconnected with me.
We rebuilt our relationship, and his wife stays away, which is a blessing. I have since found out she is bipolar and has other mental health issues. — What Goes Around
Dear W.G.A.: It must have been difficult for you to cope with the estrangement, but you managed to make a fulfilling life for yourself. And as a bonus, you now have a relationship with your son again.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.