Dear Annie: I have been with my husband, “Andrew,” for 10 years.
During this time, I have witnessed the way he is treated by his stepmother. His father always defended his wife when she insulted or hurt Andrew, saying “she didn’t mean it that way.” Believe me, she always said exactly what she meant.
This woman is emotionally abusive. She told Andrew from a young age that he couldn’t be her husband’s son because they look nothing alike. She claims he deserved her treatment because he was bratty as a child. Andrew says he was probably acting out because his biological mother left him, and he didn’t want to be close to another person who could break his heart.
Last year, we decided to move closer to the family to help patch things up, but things did not go as planned. In fact, it got worse. Andrew finally had the guts to tell his stepmother how she has made him feel all these years. I also spoke my mind to defend my husband because someone needed to be on Andrew’s side for once.
So we basically have been kicked out of the family. It says in the Bible to “honour thy mother and father,” but we are struggling with this. I believe in forgiveness, but does that mean we pretend like nothing happened? Why is Andrew being punished for expressing how he feels? — Hurt and Confused in Wisconsin
Dear Wisconsin: People don’t want to hear unpleasant truths about themselves, especially when they don’t much like you to begin with. While your approach seems justified, it doesn’t sound especially diplomatic, and this is why the response was so harsh. See if Andrew can get your in-laws to go with him for family counseling. He should say that he loves them and wants to repair this rift.
Dear Annie: My out-of-work, depressed, alcoholic, diabetic husband rarely leaves the house. He has no friends and no hobbies, but he is well informed and has an opinion on everything, so he subjects us to unending tirades. He spouts that he is qualified to do any job, and yet he won’t lift a finger to get one or take a class to improve his skills.
He eats, sleeps, watches TV and reads the newspaper. He takes no interest in the children at all. We are deeply in debt due to his unemployment. I do not want to stay, but cannot afford to leave. Please help. — Forlorn
Dear Forlorn: If your husband refuses to help himself, you must do what is best for yourself and your children. Talk to your clergyperson. Ask your doctor for assistance. Contact Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) and the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org). Are you working outside the home? Can you find a job, even part time, that will help support your family? Would your family be willing to help? Please look into ways to become more financially independent, while also seeking sources of emotional support.
Dear Annie: I am in the same boat as the wife of “Chagrined in Chicago,” as are many women. I have absolutely no desire for sex whatsoever. It cannot be aroused by any means. What was once exciting is now uncomfortable and unwanted.
I have tried various cures and have submitted in the name of keeping a happy marriage, but it is not working. I resent being pushed into trying harder. One of us is going to be “deprived.” Why should it be me?
I cannot see a happy solution to the problem, but I am so tired of being given suggestions like “put on your sexiest nightie” or “watch an erotic movie together.”
Nature has pulled the plug. Why isn’t there a pill to make a man less interested so we are on an even footing? — Arizona
Dear Arizona: We know a lot of women who would be quite interested in that pill.