Not much hope in saving marriage

My husband and I recently separated after 20 years of marriage. I love him, but not like a husband.

Dear Annie: My husband and I recently separated after 20 years of marriage.

I love him, but not like a husband. However, we’ve always been there for each other when it really mattered and have decided divorce is the only way to save our friendship. We’re working hard to make sure our teenage boys still feel we are a family and know we both love them.

The kids and I finally moved out of my husband’s home and into our own apartment. Now that I’m gone, he has suddenly decided we are making a mistake and wants to work things out. While I don’t rule out reconciliation, I believe our problems are serious. Ongoing counselling and hard work could help with most, but there are two I don’t think we can fix.

The first is that we bring each other down. He sucks the life out of me, and I imagine I do the same to him. The other thing is our sex life. I’ve tried explaining what I like, but nothing helps. It’s just awful. I’m 43 and would like to think a satisfying sex life is not asking too much. I’ve cheated on him in the past and now wonder if an “open” marriage would help us. I think I would enjoy staying married if I weren’t obligated to have sex with him.

I’m currently seeing a guy who seems perfect. We laugh and have fun. The sex is fantastic. But will he ever want to install a chain lock on my door to keep me safe? Will he check the air pressure in my tires before a trip? Will he invite my mom to dinner even if we are mad at each other?

My husband is a good man. Is that enough? Is the secret to a happy life settling for what you’ve got? — Struggling

Dear Struggling: It’s a matter of setting priorities so you get what is most important to you and can live with the rest. For you, sex is a priority, so the marriage isn’t working. A good sex therapist (aasect.org) can help with that. Of course, in 10 years, you may decide sex is less important and be sorry you left. The bigger problem is that the two of you “suck the life out” of each other. That’s a sad way to live. If you cannot find a way to enjoy the aspects of his personality that you do appreciate, there isn’t much hope.

Dear Annie: I am writing on behalf of pregnant women everywhere. Yesterday, as I was walking up the stairs at work, a co-worker shouted, “Here comes fattie!”

I am seven months’ pregnant, and while I have a sizeable belly, I would not call myself “fat.” People have also told me that my doctor must have the wrong due date, and that I’m never going to make it the full nine months.

Annie, my doctor says I am exactly on track. Please tell those well-meaning people that their comments are not appreciated by pregnant women, who are often tired, achy, swollen and full of hormones. Here’s my advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. — Frustrated in Mississippi

Dear Mississippi: Good advice for all circumstances. Some people see a pregnant woman and their brains fly right out their ears. Congratulations to you.

Dear Annie: This is for “Angry in Vermont,” whose 88-year-old mother is dying and her insurance carrier wants her to pay out of pocket for a nurse to come to the house for the first 30 days.

Tell the daughter to contact her local not-for-profit hospice. They perform palliative care for the patient and offer help for the family. They treat patients and their families with dignity, love and caring. Our hospice in Hendersonville, N.C., won an award for being the best in the country. And by the way, it is free. — L.B.

Dear L.B.: Many readers suggested hospice, an excellent resource for end-of-life care. Contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (nhpco.org) at 1-800-658-8898.

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

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