I’m a great wife but I get no respect

My husband is an amazing man. He is selfless and has uncompromising integrity. He is well-known and well-respected in our small community. I am proud to be his wife.

Dear Annie: My husband is an amazing man. He is selfless and has uncompromising integrity. He is well-known and well-respected in our small community. I am proud to be his wife.

I am 19 years my husband’s junior, and this, along with his well-deserved reputation, casts a huge shadow over me.

I understand some of this can’t be helped, but why must people treat me as though I am some kind of accessory? I am a fairly intelligent woman, and although I am attractive, I don’t present myself as a bimbo.

The real problem, however, is that my husband not only doesn’t seem to notice or care when his “fans” treat me rudely, it’s almost as if he goes out of his way to be extra nice to these very same people.

I have accused him of building his ego by making me feel inferior. Am I crazy? He claims I am overreacting. His own brother said to me, “You were a nobody until you married my brother.” How do you think my husband should react to these situations? – Mrs. Nobody

Dear Mrs.: He should make it clear that he is also proud of his wife. There is often an assumption when Mr. Big Shot marries a much younger woman that she is simply a trophy wife. Your husband either agrees or likes to give that impression.

Women in these marriages have to work quite hard to establish an independent identity.

People don’t know you. So get on the boards of some charitable foundations. Volunteer at your church. Start a literacy program or a food drive. If you want to develop a reputation as a smart, capable woman, you must do something to promote it instead of relying on your unsupportive husband to do it for you.

Dear Annie: Why is it that whenever my husband and I have a get-together at our home, hardly anyone shows up?

Tonight we contacted several friends to come over for drinks and to listen to music and kick back. Absolutely no one showed up.

This is not unusual. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a planned event or a last-minute thing, the turnout is minimal or nonexistent. Yet, if someone else has a get-together, there are people everywhere.

I don’t get it. We’re fun people. We have a comfy home and many friends, so I thought. And when people do come, we all have a blast.

By the way, this goes for our families, too.

My oldest son just graduated high school and is the first in either family to attend college. I went all out for his open house and even reminded everyone to come.

Once again, hardly anyone showed up. Not only was I disappointed, my son was crushed. Life should be filled with family and friends. Why is this happening? — Indiana

Dear Indiana: We have no idea. You could be issuing unclear invitations or having so many get-togethers that people feel they’ve been there before and can afford to miss some. Invite fewer people less often and see if your invitations become more valued.

As for your family, we suggest asking them point-blank what’s going on and telling them how disappointed you and your son were that they didn’t bother to celebrate his graduation.

An honest explanation would be helpful.

Dear Annie: Every year you print a letter from someone complaining about glowing Christmas newsletters. Tell people to read between the lines.

I didn’t put in the newsletter that my son dropped out of school and spent time in the hospital for depression.

I also left out the years when I considered divorce and the time my other son was arrested for possession of marijuana.

I’d rather sift through the events of the year in order to bring to light the few blessings that did occur. – Focusing on the Blessings

Dear Blessings: That is a lovely idea for others to keep in mind, but it is also important that these newsletters not become brag sheets regardless of the reason.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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