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Wife Wants to Leave Depressed, Ailing Husband

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Dear Annie: I've been married for 36 years. The first 20 were loving, but the past 16 have deteriorated to the point of despair.

My husband, "John," is now 68. Though once athletic and active, John is now frail and weak. He complains of chronic headaches and a host of other physical ailments, and worst of all, he suffers from major bouts of severe depression. He's suicidal, and chances are good that he'll take his life if I leave him.

John is taking medication for his depression. I've stuck by him because he's a decent man and I care for him, but I know things won't get better. If this is what the rest of my life looks like, I'm afraid for my own future.

What's also upsetting is that John's entire life revolves around me. I've encouraged him to establish personal interests and hobbies, but he won't. He's a chore to be with — negative and difficult to converse with. And no matter what direction I take with him when we discuss his "problems," he ends up crying — a victim, like his mother and sister. We seldom go out with friends. Traveling is out of the question. I go alone when I can, but he's hard to leave beyond a week or two.

Five years ago, I saw a therapist who advised me to leave John. I wanted to and still do, but I don't know whether I can handle the guilt of turning my back on him. We cannot afford to put him in a long-term care facility, but he needs serious help. Our sons live out of state with their own families. They offer emotional support, but aren't in any position to care for him.

I stay busy with friends, activities and a part-time job. It helps some, but I see my own happiness slipping away. I am trapped in a life with a man I no longer love but feel obligated to care for because he's sick. What should I do? — N.N.

Dear N.N.: Depression is an illness, not a choice. Please talk to John's doctor about different medication.

His current treatment isn't doing the job. Then contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline (nami.org) at 1-800-950-NAMI and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (dbsalliance.org), and ask what help is available for you, including respite care. You desperately need a break.

Dear Annie: I am 30 years old and decided to go back to college. I have made good grades. The problem is two supposedly grown women in one of my classes. It started when one of them broke up with my cousin. She blames me.

These women talk about me behind my back, scream in my face, threaten me and throw things at me. I have tried to be the bigger person and ignore them or walk away, but it hasn't stopped. I also went to the dean and the teacher and got no results.

I am getting tired of the harassment, and I still have six more months in this class. What can I do? — Fuming in College

Dear Fuming: If these women are threatening you, the school should take action. Go back to the dean and say you will have to notify the police if the university won't deal with the situation. Then do it.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Concerned," who objected to his granddaughter having a photograph of her late grandmother at her wedding.

In the past few years, I have attended some weddings of people whose beloved family members had passed away. One niece had a display of both sets of parents and all of her grandparents, including those who had died. Another niece put flowers on her father's grave the day she got married. I attended a garden wedding where there were three chairs in the front row with ribbons on the back and a rose on the seat for the deceased parents of the groom and the deceased mother of the bride. I thought all of these were wonderful tributes. — L. in Florida

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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

54 Comments | Post Comment
LW2: And, of course, get a recording. Since you're in college, you probably have a smartphone. Put your phone on audio record, or better yet, video record if possible, as soon as you are anywhere near these people. If they really are threatening you, a recording should get the teacher/authorities to take notice.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Steve C
Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:44 PM
Steve C's advice is very good, but check the law in your state before you record somebody. All states have laws about video and audio recording, sometimes called 'unreliable ear' laws. Many states are "one party" and it's legal to secretly record anybody in a conversation that you are part of, but illegal to record people that aren't talking with/to you.

Journalists know these laws well, so the best place to check is the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press (RCFP.) Their online "Reporter's Recording Guide" is where you can select your state and find out what is legal there.

I figure links aren't allowed here, so you'll have to search for it. :)
Comment: #2
Posted by: Johanna
Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:21 PM
LW1- You cannot live your life miserable because someone you love chooses to be miserable. I come from a family of many that have emotional and mental issues. I know of two people who exhibited very similar symptoms to what you describe. In both instances the SO ended up ok. In one, the SO changed dramatically and they reunited. Unbelievably without council. I think it may have been a ploy for attention. But that's neither here nor there. The second couple broke up for a long period. The wife was suicidal and "fragile" for several years. Her husband was very tactile in his dealings to the point that he lost many women who wouldn't understand his allegiance to his ex, at that point, wife. She ended up finding another man and then didn't need my friend at all. It's proof to me that there is a person for everyone. You need to live your own destiny. He will make due.
Comment: #3
Posted by: LolaT
Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:37 PM
for the college student, skip the school and go right to the police. Threatening and harrassment are uncalled for. Obviously they have the mental maturity of a spoiled 13 year old. They need a reality check.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Laurie
Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:48 PM
* * * * PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT * * * *

LW3 refers to the second letter on 3 February 2013.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:04 AM
LW2: What Laurie said. Colleges are notorious for sweeping crimes between students under the rug. They are so afraid of being sued by the guilty party that they fail to protect the innocent. What's worse, they won't tell you that that's what they're doing; they'll pretend they're going to take action, just to keep you from going to the police. What these idiots are doing is illegal, and ultimately the college isn't responsible for enforcing the law. You could try what the Annies suggest, but it probably won't help at this point; I'd go straight to the police if I were you. Johanna and Steve's advice is good too. Whatever you can do (legally) to document their behavior will help. If you find that you can't record them, try to avoid seeing them in places where there are no witnesses, and keep a journal of times, events, and witnesses.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Baldrz
Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:17 AM
LW2: Actually, because colleges are afraid of being sued, they usually respond to these sorts of complaints -- especially if they are made in writing.

Check your student handbook for policies on the environment of respect the school expects to promote, and then check in with the other on-campus offices that may be set up to help these situations -- sometimes it's a student life office, sometimes there's a dean of students separate from the college dean, sometimes there's an ombudsman -- and depending on the nature of the threats, there is campus security or campus police.

Follow up your meetings with email or letters, detailing the nature of the threats. Keep a log as well -- the recording idea could also work, especially if you are simply setting up to record the lecture and just "happen" to catch these threats on audio or video. (Although that depends on whether or not the instructor allows taping of lectures -- some do, some don't).

But you must document these threats as they happen, and then use that as part of your follow-up with the college. And then, if there is still no response, then you should ratchet up the pressure, either by talking to your campus or local newspaper, or going to the local police.

Do you have any friends in the class? Someone you can talk to who has witnessed this abuse and is willing to confirm it to the authorities? That could also be helpful.

What you need to make sure is that you are representing this situation as serious, and not just a "tiff" or a "he said/she said" problem.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:49 AM
LW1: My immediate thought was to find new doctors -- if this is how your husband is behaving while medicated, he's either pretending to take it but not, or else he's clearly on the wrong medication.

You need to get him to a new set of doctors as soon as possible. His current ones are apparently not helping him. Once he is on the right dose of the right medication, he should be in a much better state to advocate for himself and to work with you on rebuilding his life and yours -- and maybe you'll find you don't resent him as much, or maybe you'll find this means you both can move on separately.

But either way, the answer to your problem starts with getting him better treatment than he's currently receiving.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:55 AM
I think the Annies missed the fact that John isn't just depressed, but seriously ill (which could be partly why he's depressed). Since "weak and frail" is not an illness at age 68 but a symptom, it sounds like he could have ALS, MS, adult-onset MD, or active cancer. If that's the case, it may help both of them to contact and join a support group for whatever the illness is. John may have a more comfortable time socialiing with people who have the same limitations and things in common with him, while the wife would be able to talk with people going through the same thing she is. They may even learn about some new treatment options or tips on how to deal better with the illness' fallout.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Jane
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:01 AM
LW!, which physician has your husband on his current medications? Family physicians are not trained to treat mental illnesses, they can only prescribe medications. Medications alone do very little to treat mental illness, it is palliative care at best. Please encourage your husband to try a second opinion, and look for a treating psychologist who works with a prescribing psychiatrist. Your husband needs to learn how to deal with his depression, pills can't do it all.

And also, keep in mind that your husband has been dealing with one way of life, depression, all of his life. Change from getting better may be very scary for him. If he refuses, then you can say you did your best and walk away without guilt.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Jenny
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:09 AM
LW1: I have a couple of other ideas for you which I will get to in a minute, but the first thing I want to say to you is that you are NOT alone and these are very common emotions to have when you are the primary caregiver of a sick person.

YEARS ago, I did a short term contract with the local Area Agency on Aging and I was really struck by how devistating the effects are of long term care on the caregiver. We had several instances of elder abuse by people who were otherwise good people, but were just fatigued and worn out from the 24/7 care and emotional toll of people who were once active and loving and had turned. One situation has always stuck in my head: a woman had been taking care of her husband who had dementia for 14 years. She took little time for herself and had to watch him all the time because he would walk out the door and she had to search for him, sometimes for hours. One day, her children gave her an Easter basket with a chocolate bunny. She told her husband that she wanted the bunny for later on that day. You guessed it, he ate it. She took a knife and stabbed him to death. When asked WHY, whe said something in her just SNAPPED and she couldn't take it anymore. When her case came up to trial, she was basically given only probation, but she had to live with the guilt for the rest of her life.

I don't think the LW is going down that path: she has friends and activities to keep her busy, but she is overwhelmed and that is when things like that happen. The resentment is clearly there already. And I don't think the LW knows that there are RESOURCES out there that can help.

In addition to the mental health resources the Annies mentioned, here are some other suggestions.

1. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging or whatever they call it in your area. There are caseworkers there who can point you to the local resources that can help you. If you don't know where they are, call 2-1-1 (in most states) which is the hotline for social services. They can refer you to the correct agency and resources.

2. You say you can't afford long term care, but many senior communities have "adult day care" that would get your husband out of the house and active during the day. Again, social services may be able to help with the costs if you qualify.

3. If you belong to a church, ask your pastor if they have any referrals for care as well. Our church has volunteers who help out at elderly people's homes a few times a week. Even if your own church does NOT help, they probably belong to a network of churches and can help you get some at home assistance.

4. Talk to a financial consultant and get your affairs in order STAT. Honestly, reading your letter set off red flags in my mind because if it's bad now (when he's only 68) it's only going to get worse. There are ways to afford long term care, but a financial consultant and/or estate planner is where you need to go. You will want to loop your sons into this discussion as they will most likely need to help out financially at some point. My family did this when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and it gave ALL of us a lot of peace, most of all Mom. Once we had a plan in place, we were able to concentrate on her and her healing and not on the money. So far so good, she's going on 8 years post diagnosis and is very strong.

Although I know you are tired of the situation and of being the focus of your husband's life, I don't think you really want to leave him. Please look into the above suggestions. Best of luck.
Comment: #11
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:19 AM
LW1 - I agree with everyone who has recommended that John change doctors. Suicidal tendencies and actions are side effects of some medications for depression, and it seems likely that John is on the wrong one. Also, some of his other problems could be the result of physical disease. Get him to another doctor, because his current one doesn't seem to be doing his or her job.

LW2 - Again, I agree with those who have said to take the problem to the police, especially if these women have physically threatened you. Inform the college that you are doing so. The threat of physical violence is considered "assault", while the attack itself is "assault and battery". Both are crimes in most jurisdiction. Make sure you document everything and check the laws in your jurisdiction as they pertain to recording conversations and making videos. The laws governing these things are still in their infancy in many places and haven't always caught up with technology.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Kitty
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:19 AM
LW1--This is why you hetero people sometimes get on my damned nerves. The last time I checked honey, your marriage vows included a couple of clauses that you promised to uphold. Does "in sickness and in health" or "until death do we part" ring any bells? Your husband is getting old and with age has developed some fairly typical aches and pains. After 36 years, he's no longer the handsome jock who swept you off your feet. Trust me, he knows this! And since he's invested so much time and energy insinuating himself into your orbit, the more you convey unhappiness the more depressed (and desperate) he becomes. Evidently when you rode off into the sunset all those years ago, you believed that happily ever after meant immortality in a dream world of rainbows and sunshine. It's time you faced the fact that when the going gets tough, you get going. You're willing to leave what was a long, decent marriage to a good man because you're getting sick and tired of your aging husband being sick and tired. Well, go on; leave your husband. Then when he kills himself or dies alone in a nursing home, let's hope your new younger paramour and awesome new life are enough to sate the guilt that will follow you the rest of your life.

LW2--For starters you can grow up already. You're in college now, not high school. You're also an adult and so it's time to start acting like one. While I'm certain there are two sides to your story and that you're not merely the innocent little victim you portray yourself, for the sake of brevity I'll assume for a minute that you're telling the truth about the harassment and abuse you're receiving from your two classmates. You've already gone to the Dean and to the Teacher so now it's time to take legal action. Document the incidents and then go to the police and see about taking out a restraining order against these two imbeciles. Then, ignore them. I'm presuming that you are one of the 6 billion people in the world who have a cell phone and that you're savvy enough to call 911 when threatened. If you can't handle adult conflict resolution, then maybe you should consider waiting a few more years before returning to college because you'll never make it in today's modern workplaces.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Chris
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:21 AM
LW2: What Mike said. He works in that environment and knows it best. Honestly, I can't believe that the Dean wouldn't take it seriously as they are in a position to be sued if something happens on their grounds, but do as Mike says.

LW3: My father passed away a few years ago, and I can tell you, he will be "present" at my wedding in some way. He is IMPORTANT to me and is a part of who I am. It may be a picture, or maybe I'll dance the first dance to his favorite song, or maybe we'll have his favorite dessert... I don't know. The original LW bugged me because for goodness sake's it's the brides GRANDMOTHER and he didn't want a PICTURE there because it could potentially have irritated his new bride. Well, suck it up, gramps. Just because you've moved on, doesn't mean your granddaughter will forget her granny.
Comment: #14
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:38 AM
If they threw things at her that hit her that is battery.
Comment: #15
Posted by: nonegiven
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:48 AM
Re: Chris

Just curious: are gay people any better at this than "us heteros"? What does that have to do with ANYTHING?
Comment: #16
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:55 AM
@ nanchan

I don't know nanchan, I guess we'll just have to wait until same-sex marriage is legalized to find out now won't we?
Comment: #17
Posted by: Chris
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:58 AM
Marriage - clearly the only partnership of any importance. <---sarcasm title for the impaired<------
Comment: #18
Posted by: Jess
Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:12 AM
Chris, it's been legal in some states for awhile now.....and again, what does that have to do with ANYTHING?
Comment: #19
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:57 AM
LW1 -
Chances are John is suicidal, not because there is something wrong with his head, but because his life is now unbearable, especally compared to what it once was. If that is the case, antidepressants are not going to be much help, because they can't take care of the core reason for the depression. Unfortunately, although his health problems are not his choice or his fault, neither are they yours.

His suicidal tendencies can also be the result (or aggravated) by the wrong medication. Get a second opinion, because it doesn't look like his present course of treatment is doing him any good.

Of course John's life revolves around you. You are his primary caretaker and he's totally dependent on you. Being totally dependent tends to trigger feelings of helpless rage, and unfortunately they will be directed at the person he is depending on, because you represent the symbol of his dependence and simply because there is nobody else around. It is entirely possible that his negativity and apathy are a result of this.

This being stated, you have needs also and they are not being attended right now. You are not equipped to be a full-time care-giver and this is obviously too much to handle for you. It looks like you need more respite than you're already getting, especially since there is no hope of improvement and the situation can only get worse. What the Annies said.

You say that "he is hard to leave beyong a week of two". Perhaps he is, but if he can be left for a week or two, he can be left for a month, or he can be left for a week or two more often. Make the arrangements. Try to see if you can take a week of at a time once a month.

Do consult the sources the Annies provided, and these people may also have other references to give you. I cannot believe there isn't something somewhere in terms of chronic care for people who have no money. What would the government do if you keeled over tomorrow, just leave him to rot? Sure there are resources somewhere. This man needs to be in a facility, where people will be trained to take care of him. That doesn't mean you are abandoning him and you can visit him often.

But do not let yourself be dragged into emotional blackmail. You are not the cause of his illness and it is not your responsiblity whether or not he is suicidal. Do inpress on him that you cannot take care of him if you fall ill or feel over from a heart attack due to exhaustion. IF the argument fails to convince him, that is his problem, especially since this is not an exaggeration.

If he ever chooses to terminate his existence because there is no joy and only pain and suffering, THAT IS HIS CHOICE, not your fault. Do keep in mind that the debate about assisted suicide exists for a reason - as the expection of living goes beyong 8 decades, more and more people will be plagued with problems that render their lives an unbearable burden. I am of the opinion tnat people have the right to decide what to do with their own life and body.

I think you could benefit from some form of counselling, if only to receive professionally targetted emotional support. Your children are doing what they can in that regard, but they are no more professionally equipped to deal with this than you are, and they have no idea of what your everyday life is really like, even if you give them a minute-by-minute rundown.

LW2 -
Stop threatening the dean with the police. You don't need his permission to go file a complaint with the police, so do exactly that yesterday. What you threaten the dean with is a LAWSUIT. That should do it. Perhaps there is also an ombudsman you can go to. Find out at the student services or information desk.

Make sure you document the events - dates, people present, and start collecting witnesses. Whatever they are blaming you for, right or wrong, there is no excuse hor threats and harassment, and throwing things at you constitute a bodily assault with weapon.

If the dean is such an idiot that he doesn't follow suit (;-D), consult a lawyer. You're in a university, the law studies department ought to be able to direct you to some inexpensive or free resources. Or the student services or information desk.

But you can get a headstart by making your complaint and lawsuit threat in writing - spoken words dissipate, written words remain and can be used as evidence in court. Enough already. You were not born to serve as a scratching post to two little bitches who deciced you are to be the scapegoat for whatever prrro-blem they have.

Comment: #20
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:13 AM
Re: Chris
1. Regardless of the "till death do us part" and "in sickness and in health" thingie, where did you get the idea that marriage vows provide people with superpowers? The man is 68, how old do you think SHE is? A woman in her sixties is not physically equipped to be a sick man's primary care giver, and she is not even trained to avoid injury to herself.

Look. Nobody is telling her to DTMFA, but she needs more help than she's getting. I don't see what's so wrong with admitting that, and why you're dancing on her head.

2. "This is why you hetero people sometimes get on my damned nerves."
"I guess we'll just have to wait until same-sex marriage is legalized to find out now won't we?"

What's heterosexuality and same-sex marriage got to do with ANYTHING? Are you telling me that gays are ever so compassionate that they have exhibit the problem LW1 has? I dunno, man. I sure don't see that in you today!

And if that is "why" we "heteros" get on your nerves so much, I can think of some gay(s) getting on my nerves with they get an attack of bitch-queenyness. Is there medication for that, or do you expect your partner to weather the storm in sickness and in health until death doth you part?

Crissy-boy got up from the wrong side of the bed, I think, or he didn't get his nookie last night and he's in a wad. ;-D

Seriously now, Chris, go get your coffee.

Comment: #21
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:33 AM
Re: LW1 – Thank goodness Chris wrote first. While reading your letter, all I could think was *you only loved your husband while he was healthy*. 20 years wasn't good enough for you? You saw a therapist, who without meeting with your husband, advised you to leave him because of his illness? I don't buy that.

I guess I am lucky – First and foremost, I am a Christian. I have the most amazing relationship with God. Over and over HE has proven to me that HE listens, and helps me with the life-changing obstacles – to change with the times (as it were…). I married out of love, nothing else. Not the money (we didn't have any), not even the potential (we were young, hadn't figured out what to do with the future), and not because of religion (I have always believed, my husband in the past year has, on his own, begun talking about God's Plan).

Being totally honest, I asked my husband for a separation last summer. The reason? The diagnosis of my fourth incurable disease. I didn't think that my husband deserved to live with the impending down-fall of my health. I thought that I could handle it better without thinking of how my health was affecting other family members.

I will not forget my husband's wise words: This is the Universe putting our situation into perspective. He was born pre-maturely, his mother smoked and drank throughout the pregnancy, I was born a healthy weight, mom never smoked or drank. I always exercised and ate healthily. It should be HIM that has such a problem with health. What the Hell?? (No, I would not wish upon him an incurable disease, but I question WHY if I have done everything right, and him – no so much, why I have been stuck with this?)

Of course I received my answer. Hubby is dedicated to help – he treasures the good days, and holds me on the bad days. My children are also more involved. I love that I *take* my daughter out once a month to a restaurant so we can talk. She picks me up, holds my arm to her car, then to the restaurant, then see's how the food has affected me, rushes the waitress over to tally up the bill, and gets me home and in bed – AND she still wants to do it again!! I am truly blessed.

Sorry for the rambling, but I don't see that kind of love or devotion in your letter. You seem to be the type that stays for the good times, and finds excuses to leave during the bad times. When necessary, you might find a caregiver to give you your *me* time, but you don't seem to be open to even that – your hubby is all used up, need to trade him in. ARGGH!!
Comment: #22
Posted by: Jenna
Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:35 AM
Erratum - "that they NEVER exhibit"
Comment: #23
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:37 AM
LW1 also have his doctor check his testosterone levels. Low t can cause all of the symptoms including depression.
Comment: #24
Posted by: abloss45
Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:57 AM
Re: Jenna
First, Jenna, I'm very sorry to hear about your health problems. I'm glad you have people around you who love and support you.

But you should draw from your Christian compassion to realise that your situation is different from that of the LW. Your husband is physically stronger than the LW, and you are lighter than her husband. And your husband is getting help from your children. And (last, but not least), your own attitude is diametrically different. You are considerate enough to be concerned about the burden you're afraid to be for the people you love. You are grateful. You are cheerful and pleasant to be around. You are NOT severely depressed, "negative and difficult to converse with", and using fits of tears as emotional manipulation.

Being 24/7 with someone who suffers from major depression can be extremely destructive and the woman is not equipped professionally to deal with that. If she was a selfish woman, she would have left long ago. But she didn't, even when advised to do so, and she's been staying for the past 16 years, strictly out of devotion. She also says that she's "stuck by him because he's a decent man and I care for him".

If you don't "see that kind of love and devotion" in her letter, well, I do. But what I also see is physical and mental exhaustion, and hopelessness, because things can only get worse, she's not getting any younger and is perhaps starting to develop physical complaints of her own, and she can feel her own energy draining from her. And she's also dead broke, and doesn't know where to turn for help. Hopelessness can be a terrible thing... Let's pray for her, shall we? Where we stand, that's all we can give her, and I think she needs it badly.

Comment: #25
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:12 AM
LW2 - This is nothing more than adult bullying, and it should not be tolerated. Two words: restraining order.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Linda
Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:15 AM
Re: Jenna

It's interesting that you read a lack of compassion in the letter, where I read a lot of FRUSTRATION in the letter.

While you have your health challenges, and I am sorry for that, the LW is describing a very different situation. You went to your husband and gave him the option out. The LW"s husband is doing the opposite. And I have to say from my observations, that caregivers have a lot of stress. Add to that a surly patient who is clingy and depressed and you have a recipe for disaster.

I understand the concept of "till death us do part" and I agree with you that when you take a vow it needs to be taken seriously. But I don't see the LW truly wanting to bail. If she DID, she would have, five years ago. She is FRUSTRATED and doesn't know what to do. Hence the letter to the Annies.

I hope your health improves and think your husband is fantastic.... but I'll bet even people like your husband get frustrated at times. They need a place to VENT. That's why the LW needs help and not judgement.
Comment: #27
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:28 AM
Re: Linda

If she can't call the cops, how is she going to get a restraining order?
Comment: #28
Posted by: nanchan
Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:30 AM
Re: nanchan

I must have missed something. Why can't she call the cops? Is she without a car or a phone? An inquiring mind wants to know....
Comment: #29
Posted by: Linda
Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:43 AM
Re: Linda
I wondered about that too -- several of us here BTL (as well as the Annies) have suggested she bypass the school and report them to the police.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Kitty
Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:09 AM
LW2: Since these alleged grown up women have thrown things at you, they are already guilty of assault. You can bet that they would waste no time having YOU charged if you had the temerity to catch one of the things they threw at you and fling it back at them. God forbid that you would have better aim than them, then they would have you charged with battery as well.

If you can, pick up some of the things thrown at you and take them to the police. Maybe if they see you gathering evidence, they may get scared and back off, but go to the police anyway. Since you have already talked to the University about this, they can't say they didn't have a chance to address the situation before you went further. No one should have to attend school in such a hostile environment.
Comment: #31
Posted by: JustWinBaby
Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:19 AM
@Linda, for myself, I strongly suspect she isn't calling the cops because the reality is these incidents aren't quite as bad as we are interpreting them to be, and she realizes that calling the cops may be seen as overkill.

She doesn't say what these threats were; she doesn't say that they threatened her physically; she doesn't say what it was they threw at her. (Gum? Wads of paper? Pencils?) It sounds like juvenile high school stuff rather than true physical threat. So the reason the dean or the teacher may not be taking it that seriously is that she doesn't have documentation or evidence to back it up, and it's entirely possible the situation isn't quite as serious as we are being led to believe.

I can tell you that if there were screams, threats, and throwing of *dangerous* objects in a classroom on *any* college campus, there *would* be witnesses and campus security would be there. (Especially given campus shootings in the last decade!) It's doubtful that *none* of the bystanders would want to do nothing... at the very least some of them would have come up to LW to support her (or him, actually, but I'll just keep assuming "she" for ease of commenting).

So... either she's not quite as innocent, and she said a few things back or egged these two on in some way, and all bystanders see both sides as equally at fault in the feud; or, these two bullies are clever enough to only go after this LW when there are no other witnesses around -- but this isn't an easy thing to do in a classroom building, either. (And LW says they are only in ONE of her classes, so they don't follow her around or anything, it's just this one class).

Because of all that, I still think its better for the LW to continue to do what she can to avoid these two, document what incidents she can, and then explore the other campus offices that can help in this situation.

And she should spend more time with friends on campus -- but I suspect, because she feels "older" than most of her fellow students, she might not have made a lot of connections, and that may be something she can control. She should be connecting with people she likes and respects, and make sure she stays in a group when in this particular class. Since it's only this one class, she should be able to avoid them otherwise.

If the situation is as serious as some of us BTL are interpreting it, though, then it should be easy enough to get witnesses and file a formal complaint -- and again, evidence, witnesses, and a complaint in writing will be taken much more seriously. Calling the police prematurely or for a situation that isn't that serious probably won't help her case, so she really does need to make sure she gets her ducks in a row on this.
Comment: #32
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:25 AM
Thanks, Mike! Your explanation of what the real situation might be makes sense....
Comment: #33
Posted by: Linda
Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:47 PM
LW1: After 20 years of a good marriage followed by 16 years of clinging, depressed helplessness, she's at the end of her tether. The advice about finding a different physician and treatment for the husband is good. The advice about getting finances in order is excellent. She's so worn down she's pretty depressed, too. Maybe not suicidal-depressed, but she sure isn't seeing any way out.
Different medical care and respite help are essential. I don't think of this as a failure of her wedding vows -- what I see is the frustration Jenna saw and the hopelessness that's infected her. She needs to be able to get out of the house and have some life for herself. If the two of them weren't married and he was threatening suicide if she left him or spent more time with her friends, people BTL would say he was controlling. Let's be honest -- he's sick, but he's being emotionally clinging and controlling, too, and she needs a reasonable break from that. He's not treating her like a life partner, he's treating her like a possession and a crutch. There's no division of labor and no mutual respect left, and that's why she is terrified she'll be stuck with him forever. My mom took care of my father at the end, and everyone admired her for it. But she had more than 50 years of a good to excellent marriage, followed by two or three awful, draining years of his illness. She didn't have 20 years of good and 16 of awful.
LW2: Your college sounds like a disorganized community college that's gotten used to high school behavior. Even if people are only throwing paper wads at you and saying nasty things in the hallways, you have a right to be free of this drama. Make a diary of all the thing that happen but never respond with anything but "I don't want to talk about this. It isn't my problem." Then take it to the police and skip the college authorities.
LW3: Nice recognitions. If a family sees a wedding as a family occasion instead of a big party for the bride and groom and their friends, then it isn't surprising that family members are recalled at the time. People who are squeamish about death need to get over it. People die. Hiding the fact that some people in the family are dead won't ensure that nobody else dies.
Comment: #34
Posted by: Reader
Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:22 PM
Jane, everyone ages differently. My dad and his father (who both led healthy, active lives when younger) were both frail and elderly looking by their early 60s. No one else in my family got that way until their 80s. A lot of times it's just genetics, and not necessarily a symptom of ALS or some other disease.
Comment: #35
Posted by: jjmg
Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:59 PM
Jane, everyone ages differently. My dad and his father (who both led healthy, active lives when younger) were both frail and elderly looking by their early 60s. No one else in my family got that way until their 80s. A lot of times it's just genetics, and not necessarily a symptom of ALS or some other disease.
Comment: #36
Posted by: jjmg
Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:02 PM
Depression isn't just "an illness." That is typical American illness, assuming that if someone isn't happy all the time, they are "ill." If the husband makes no effort to do anything about his problems, that is his own fault. I think the wife should leave him. He is a leach.
Comment: #37
Posted by: Mary
Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:36 PM
And for the person who seems to think all of "us hetero people" are all the same, do you want us to think all of you gay people are all the same?
LW1's husband is a grown man, and it is up to him to take care of himself.
Comment: #38
Posted by: Mary
Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:39 PM
jjmg:
Re, "Jane, everyone ages differently. My dad and his father (who both led healthy, active lives when younger) were both frail and elderly looking by their early 60s... it's just genetics, and not necessarily a symptom of ALS or some other disease."
Sorry, jjmg, but there is no way someone is their early 60s can be frail and "elderly" due to aging alone, especially in this day and age when 60 is the new 40. My grandfather died frail and weak at 63, but it WAS because of genetics; he had a hereditary disease. No one is "old" when they're only 60. If your family tends to have people "acting" frail and old in their early 60s, then you need to see a doctor to see what hereditary diseases are causing this. There is no way it is simply aging.
Comment: #39
Posted by: Jane
Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:50 PM
I don't see why everyone is jumping all over Chris for his "hetero" remark. When someone cheats in a marriage, everyone makes a big deal about violating the "marriage" vows, when someone complains in a letter, they often refer to their vows and how the spouse promised to XYZ but isn't doing it. Chris and many other gays have not had the opportunity to take "marriage" vows. Commitment must come first, but our culture holds the "marriage" vows in high esteem, higher than just commitment. The commentators annoyed with Chris for this are the same ones who would deride a longtime live in girlfriend for expecting to be treated like a wife. If I wanted the opportunity to take "marriage" vows and take them seriously, and was continually denied that opportunity by discriminating laws, I too would be annoyed at those who seem to take them as lightly as LW1.
Comment: #40
Posted by: msladymich
Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:01 PM
Also, I'm surprised the Annies missed it this time, I think counseling is in order for LW1 and her husband, both individually and as a couple. Depression and the mental anguish suffered by changes in one's health and mobility should not be treated with medication alone.
Comment: #41
Posted by: msladymich
Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:10 PM
Re: msladymich
"I don't see why everyone is jumping all over Chris for his "hetero" remark."
How about because our sexual orientation doesn't have any more to do with our opinion than it has to do with his?
Comment: #42
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:07 PM
LW3: My younger son was married several years after his dad passed away. At the wedding, he had a small spray of branches from a tree that his dad had grown in the yard, and had me hold it for the pictures. One of my nieces had a printed program at her wedding, and on the back was a short remembrance of her father and uncle who had recently passed.
Comment: #43
Posted by: partsmom
Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:34 PM
Re: Chris

Chris, I took away the same sentiment you did from LW1. She had a great 20 years, but now, not so much, and she wants to ditch. I would have more sympathy if she were caring for someone 24/7 who requires personal, intimate care, but she sounds totally selfish to me, whining about things like We can't go out with friends much, and I can't leave him for more than a week or two at a time.

She is not taking her vows seriously. That said, I agree with others who have said that this man has some responsibility for his well-being, and if I were his wife, I would pursue treatments with other professionals, with his cooperation.

I totally understand that people don't have much respect for "Till death do us part", and "In sickness and in health", and this lady is one of them.

Comment: #44
Posted by: Carly O
Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:58 PM
@Lise, except Chris wasn't complaining about heteros having opinions BTL; he was complaining that the hetero LW is taking her vows "in sickness and in health" so casually, when many heteros don't want us homos to even have the right to marry because they feel for some reason *our* relationships aren't "real".

It's a slam on the LW and those who would keep marriage equality away from us. And it's a not-unheard of lament; Britney Spears' 55-hour marriage is another common example that we use to say things like "and heteros think *we* shouldn't marry?!?"

(Focus more on the "THIS is why" part of his first sentence rather than emphasizing "YOU heteros" and you get more to the heart of his point. It's what this LW is doing that irks him.)
Comment: #45
Posted by: Mike H
Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:26 AM
Re: Mike H
Yeah. Well, if I look at all the gays I've known so far in my life (and with that I do, that's very many), I have known quite a few who were perfectly capable of staying married for only 55 minutes and who would be out like a bat outa hell in a situation like LW1.

I understand the point now that you've filled me in with what was missing from Chris' post, but the reason narrow-minded "heteros" are fighting same-sex marriage has nothing to do with a capacity or will to truly commit.

Comment: #46
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:28 AM
Re: Carly O
And I would have less sympathy for her if her husband was a little more pleasant to be around. The man is negative, difficult to converse with, childish and manipulative. And he suffers from bouts of severe depression, which is extremely hard on the entourage. I'm sure there's plenty more that she doesn't say. And I don't see any indication that she isN'T with him 24/7, except for the brief times when she can get away. So it doesn't sound like she has to change his diaper - putting up with a severely depressed man will be just as exhausting. Read my post #25 to Jenna.

She's been putting up with that for the past 16 years. She would have shipped out a long time ago if she was that selfish. But she's running out of steam and fast reaching the end of her rope. I don't see how she deserves to be blamed because her vows did not supply her with Superman invulnerability and Spiderman strength.

Comment: #47
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:42 AM
@Lise, "but the reason narrow-minded "heteros" are fighting same-sex marriage has nothing to do with a capacity or will to truly commit." <--- not exactly entirely accurate.

Narrow-minded heteros give a bunch of different reasons for their fighting marriage equality. It's hard to know what is really a genuine concern and what is just a veneer for their bigotry.

But there are plenty of leaders in the anti-gay movement who've publicly declared that we are incapable of commitment. (Something I find ironic when the median length of a first marriage in the US is 8 years, and Ike and I just passed our 8th anniversary as a couple... )

So this*is* a point we've been hammered about the head with, when people try to justify their anti-gay positions. And that's why arguments like Chris' are something I've heard countless times within the community, even making a few similar comments myself (in my own style).

The part I find most ironic is that these same people decried our licentious, promiscuous lifestyle... but then when we WANT to be monogamous and traditional they also complain about that!
Comment: #48
Posted by: Mike H
Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:16 AM
Re: Lise Brouillette
Lise,
I agree that living with this man is no walk in the park, and her life does not sound fantastic. I am not sure I would be able to stay with my husband if he became that way either. My point was more about sticking to the vows of marriage, and not everybody would in this situation. People throw in the towel on marriages for problems much less severe than this situation. But, hopefully, this man is not choosing to be depressed, and he needs help. And the person who vowed to love until death do us part now wants to leave when the going gets tough. Difficult situation for both parties, I think.
The marriage vows are what they are, and apply to everyone who takes them, in theory. No superhuman qualities are expected to supplied.
When it comes to gay marriage, I have always felt that homosexual people absolutely have the right to be as miserable as the rest of us :) Seriously, I believe in the right for gay people to marry. I do not understand the objections.
Comment: #49
Posted by: Carly O
Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:03 AM
Cases like LW 1 are a great case for non-monogamy in marriage. It would allow the LW some psychological respite. It sounds to me that the LW's "cup is empty" and she doesn't have any love and patience left to give. Perhaps a boyfriend could be energizing. She could have her psychological needs met.

I don't see that the burnout is physical because her husband doesn't seem to need a lot of hands-on care. The line that she can't travel because she can't get away for more than a week or two at a time doesn't buy any sympathy from me. I'm 50 years old and have never traveled more than a week or two at a time in my life. Most people only get a week or two vacation per year. I've done plenty of travel and have only traveled for one to two weeks about once per decade. Truly, that complaint sounds spoiled to me.
Comment: #50
Posted by: jennifer
Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:14 AM
Cases like LW 1 are a great case for non-monogamy in marriage. It would allow the LW some psychological respite. It sounds to me that the LW's "cup is empty" and she doesn't have any love and patience left to give. Perhaps a boyfriend could be energizing. She could have her psychological needs met.

I don't see that the burnout is physical because her husband doesn't seem to need a lot of hands-on care. The line that she can't travel because she can't get away for more than a week or two at a time doesn't buy any sympathy from me. I'm 50 years old and have never traveled more than a week or two at a time in my life. Most people only get a week or two vacation per year. I've done plenty of travel and have only traveled for one to two weeks about once per decade. Truly, that complaint sounds spoiled to me.
Comment: #51
Posted by: jennifer
Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:28 AM
Sorry BTL'ers, I am weighing in here as a Christian to tell you that Chris (who has repeatedly been critical of the family of believers) has a greater understanding of the significance of marital VOWS than some of you who have declared yourselves to be of the faith. That's why we sometimes get a bad name.

Jenna, may you and your family be blessed.
Comment: #52
Posted by: Danielle
Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:35 AM
I know a lot of people are jumping on LW1 for wanting to give up on her husband. But I feel compassion for her. She's been putting up with a less than ideal situation for 16 years, and frankly it just sounds like she's burned out. Anyone would be burned out after caring for someone that long, and it sounds like the husband is excessively clingy. Knowing that she's the only one her husband turns to puts even more burden on the LW. I'm not sure if her sons know how bad off dad is but maybe it's time to bring them into the discussion about what should happen next, because LW1 definitely needs a break so that she can return to being a loving partner, not just a caretaker.

It also sounds like maybe the husband isn't doing all he can to treat his illnesses; the LW states that he acts like a victim. I know the situation is different, but I have a friend who is severely depressed (and is well aware that he is depressed), but refuses to take medication and doesn't go to counseling regularly. He treats everyone around him poorly, then doesn't understand why no one likes him. If he was making an effort to get better, we'd be so happy for him and help him get better. Instead he continues to make choices that worsen his depression, and his constant refusal to do anything for himself has made a lot of people turn away. Again, not sure if this is the case with the husband in this case, but maybe he needs to take charge of his life and try to turn things around as much as he can. It could make all the difference.
Comment: #53
Posted by: Seraina
Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:06 PM
Re: Mike H
"It's hard to know what is really a genuine concern and what is just a veneer for their bigotry."
I vote for veneer to their bigotry.

"These same people decried our licentious, promiscuous lifestyle... but then when we WANT to be monogamous and traditional they also complain about that!"
Well, of COURSE! As bigoted people, they will have decided you sinful, disgusting faggots are all a bunch of whores, and GOD FORBID you should prove them otherwise! That is not allowed.

I have witnessed the same phenomenon with men who argue women are intellectally inferior and therefore only good for one thing. Boy, do they HATE a woman like me!

@Carly O
Honestly, I think that, even though the woman is talking about leaving, that she does not really want to, otherwise she would have left long ago, she would have left when advised to do so.

But she's in her sixties, she's starting to develop problems of her own. She's growing very, VERY tired, both physically and emotionally. This is what the problem is - she is not equipped to continue handling this, not on her own, and not if the situation keeps getting worse while she keeps getting older and more exhausted. If she does a genuine, true burn-out at her age, she could land in the hospital. Who'll take care of Mister Cryer then?

Comment: #54
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:10 PM
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