Wife laughs off man’s pleas to end their long marriage

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Abbigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a problem I can't fix. I have been married for 54 years. For the last 20 we have slept in different bedrooms. I get no affection from my wife, and everything has to be her way. We no longer have anything in common except our children and grandchildren who, for the most part, come to me only when they need something.

Over the years, we have drifted apart, and there is no longer anything we enjoy doing together. I have told her many times that for my mental health we should part ways. She laughs and shrugs it off. Basically, to her I am a paycheck.

She thinks we don't have a problem. Her parents lived pretty much the same way. I need someone who will sit with me when we go out to dinner, hold hands in public, have a couple of similar interests, share the same bed, etc.

I have met a woman online who seems to care and who wants to be with me. I haven't followed through, but every time I'm verbally abused, it's pushing me more and more toward her. Help. -- UNHAPPY IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR UNHAPPY: Tell your wife you are making an appointment with a licensed marriage and family therapist to discuss your marital situation. It may be the wakeup call she needs to get her to quit laughing and pay attention to the fact that you are seriously unhappy. Ask her to go with you, but if she refuses, follow through and go without her. It may help you emotionally as you disengage from this marriage.

If you do end the marriage, recognize there will have to be a fair distribution of any assets that accumulated and be prepared to discuss your options with more than one lawyer. A word of caution, however: Do not immediately rush into a romantic relationship with someone you know only through the internet. It is crucial that you take the necessary time to detoxify and regain your balance after you exit this marriage.

DEAR ABBY: My mom passed away a year and a few months ago. My parents were married for 38 years.

Dad started a whirlwind romance with a lady about nine months after Mom's death. Their relationship lasted three months, and they were supposed to get married. She blindsided him by breaking the engagement a month before the wedding. The breakup was because she still has feelings for an ex-husband and had nothing to do with my dad.

He keeps talking to her "as a friend," but he is miserable because he's in love with her. Ever since the breakup, she gets nasty and criticizes him about small things. She is not even a good friend.

I want my father to be happy and find someone who will love him. But he continues to call and text this woman, even though it makes him sink deeper into depression every day. He keeps thinking she'll take him back, but I don't see it happening. How can I convince Daddy to cut off all contact with her? -- WHAT'S BEST FOR DAD IN GEORGIA

DEAR WHAT'S BEST: I'm not sure you are the person to do that. It might be better to enlist the aid of a male relative or close friend -- someone who knows what has been going on. Your father might be more receptive to that message if he hears it from a contemporary. If not, he may have to learn his lesson the hard way.

DEAR READERS: For those of you having trouble coping with stress and anxiety during this challenging time, Jack Drescher, M.D., respected psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, contacted me offering a resource for emotional health matters related to the coronavirus crisis. For more information, go to psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychoanalysis-unplugged-0. -- LOVE, ABBY

DEAR ABBY: I love my parents. They are thoughtful, intelligent people who supported (even encouraged) me to attend a good school on the East Coast. I now live with my boyfriend in Connecticut, where my job is located. He's 23; I am 22. We would like to start a family within the next five years, but I worry that our children will never see their grandparents on my side.

I grew up with both sets of grandparents nearby. They contributed so much to my personhood and upbringing that being without them would likely have been a detriment. The idea of my parents being strangers to my kids makes me sad and anxious.

I feel so guilty already that I want to be proactive in this. Barring the slim possibility of them moving here from Chicago, how can I help them be active grandparents when the time comes? How can I help my kids love and appreciate my parents as much as I loved my own grandma and grandpa, despite the distance? -- LONGING IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR LONGING: You may be getting ahead of yourself. Slow down. Take things one step at a time. Get married and start planning your family.

Many geographically separated families stay in contact by using video chat, but it's a poor substitute for actual human contact and shared interests. Because this bothers you to the degree that it does, discuss it with your parents. Not knowing the state of their finances or the degree of their freedom to travel, it's hard to guess how involved they may be with your children. However, if you, your boyfriend and they put your heads together, I'm sure you can arrive at a solution.

DEAR ABBY: I have been friends with "Skip" for a very long time. Our lives have taken us on very different paths. We have always disagreed about certain philosophical issues, but now the divide in our opinions is huge.

Skip makes statements and posts items on social media that, in my opinion, are outrageous. Some of them appear to be merely contrarian. Several other friends have commented about his posts.

I am concerned about Skip because of the extreme nature of his posts, and I think some friends are concerned, too. Skip and I live far away from each other. His family doesn't live near him, so contacting them probably won't help. I am concerned that what I am seeing is beyond a difference of opinion, but I don't know what, if anything, to do about it. Do you have any suggestions? -- JUST POLITICS?

DEAR J.P.: If you are concerned about Skip's mental health, then regardless of his family's lack of geographic proximity, they should be told you are worried about him and why. If you are afraid he might engage in activity in which he could pose a danger to himself or others, notify the authorities. However, if this is simply a matter of being at opposite ends of the political spectrum, it may be time to snooze Skip's posts or block him entirely.