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Just Be Happy Just Don't Fly


Dear Annie: "John" and I have been married for 15 years. He is a wonderful person and a great father to our two young girls.

Our relationship is fine on the surface, but it's emotionally empty. There is little intimacy, which has been an issue throughout our marriage. It manifests itself periodically in arguments that never seem to get resolved. John refuses to go to counseling. He wonders why I cannot "just be happy," because from his perspective, everything is fine. I have told him clearly that I need more attention and affection, but I have come to the realization that he is "just not that into me."

I have tried counseling on my own, but I was told to accept things as they are or end the marriage. Annie, I love my family. I am not asking for a magical romance. I don't think it's too much for a woman to need occasional loving physical gestures from her husband. I can't figure out why it's so hard for him to express his love if he cares for me as much as he says.

I don't want to leave, but things could be so much better if John would only put a little more effort into our marriage. Any suggestions on how to improve things? Or am I just destined to have an emotionless relationship? — Lonely in the Ville

Dear Lonely: There is a variety of reasons why a man may not show any interest in his wife: He could be gay, asexual, not attracted to you or having an affair. He could have low testosterone or other medical or emotional issues. The real problem is that he refuses to address it. Start with the approach most likely to get results. Ask John to see his doctor to have his testosterone levels checked. If he refuses or it doesn't help, move on to the other possibilities. Talk frankly with him. He needs to understand the level of your unhappiness.

Dear Annie: Last week, my sister surprised me by showing up unannounced with her two dogs.

She said she planned to stay for a week.

I do not have dogs, and that is my choice. My sister's dogs are kept in a truck while she travels, and I feel sorry for them. But I don't want them in my house.

Please tell people not to bring their beloved animals to other people's homes. We don't find them nearly as cute as they do. I don't care how well mannered they are, they still shed, need attention and occasionally dig a hole in the yard. — Annoyed in Yuma

Dear Yuma: No one, relatives included, should drop by unannounced and expect to be put up for days on end. And bringing their animals with them is terribly inconsiderate unless they have been specifically invited. We know how much people love their dogs and cats (and birds and pet snakes), but asking others to be responsible for housing them is inappropriate and makes the entire crew unwelcome. Please, people, be the type of guest who is enthusiastically invited back.

Dear Annie: I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion to "Desperate in Colorado" to bring in her younger brothers to live with her. However, I disagree that she should consider including her alcoholic mom. Her mother must show that she desires help by attending AA meetings, going to counseling or joining a rehab program. Otherwise, "Colorado" will only be inviting problems into her household.

My mother was a violent alcoholic who died when I was 23. I'm 53 now and still recovering. — Concerned About Her Brothers

Dear Concerned: We agree that living with Mom would be difficult, but it may be the only way "Colorado" can extricate her brothers and have any control over how they live.

Dear Readers: Remember to set your clocks ahead before you go to sleep tonight. And please change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, 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



41 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 - You know what choice you need to make. Communicating frankly hasn't worked and trying again as the Annies suggest is unlikely to succeed - but try it again, one last time, so you know you did all you could. Since you are not willing to accept the status quo, you need to end the marriage. Do you really want to be stuck in a loveless relationship with a man who is too selfish to consider your very reasonable needs 10 years from now? 20? The sooner you accept that you need more than your husband is willing to give you, the sooner you can move on.

LW2 - Why does it feel like you're making a mountain out of a molehill? Yeah, stupid dogs, shedding and needing attention. And digging a hole in some dirt. Gee whiz. Instead of forcing the dogs to live in a truck for a week, you should have directed your sister to a nearby hotel or motel that allows pets, or perhaps to a kennel. Or let them into your home with the understanding that this was not be repeated in the future. Dogs, like kids, can be annoying and noisy but putting up with them for a week for the sake family does not seem like the end of the world to me.

Incidentally, I find the showing up unannounced part much more irritating than the fact that she showed up with dogs, and dogs annoy the crap out of me.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Mar 9, 2012 10:09 PM

LW3 refers to the first letter on 29 January 2012.

Comment: #2
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Fri Mar 9, 2012 10:50 PM
Why in heck did she marry John in the first place. Didn't she notice his limp emotions during their courtship?
Comment: #3
Posted by: sarah stravinska
Fri Mar 9, 2012 11:35 PM
Re: Zoe
Could not agree with you more about the unannounced visit being more annoying than the fact that the visit included dogs. Admittedly, I love most dogs more than most people I have met, so my judgement is colored.
If a close relative showed up at my home and was willing to leave their dogs in their vehicle, I would be astounded and bring them in myself. Some people simply do not deserve the privilege of having animals.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Carly O
Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:09 AM
LW1 - I'm surprized that the Annies didn't suggest that he must be going through menopause so you will just have to suck it up and get over your selfish need for affection. That's what they would tell a man in the same situation. Anyway, in reality, this will never get better. It doesn't matter why. What does matter is what you are going to do about it. The best thing for your girls would be to stay married until the youngest is 18. At that point, if you've raised them to be self-sufficient adults they should be out of the house, to college or their own apt/job. Then you should divorce your husband and make a better life without him and, possibly, find a true love. Good luck! And for those of you who wonder why she married this cold fish in the first place, it wouldn't be the first time that the behavior of a spouse changed after the vows were made. It happens more often than you think.
LW2 - Take in the dogs and make the rude sister stay in the truck! ;-)
Comment: #5
Posted by: Claudia
Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:12 AM
Re:LW1, I agree, didn't his rather flat emotional state make itself clear during the courtship phase of their relationship? Or was he very romantic when they dated and then all of a sudden it turned off once they got married?

If he was always a bit of a cold fish, then I think she kind of "got what she paid for". But in either case, if she's not happy, she needs to make one last attempt to engage him in resolving the issue, but if not, she really does have to be prepared to either (a) put up with it for the rest of her life, or (b) leave. It's not easy, but she can't really change him if he doesn't want to change.

Re: LW2, yes, showing up unannounced,with dogs, is essentially compounding one wrong with another. It seems a bit strange that your sister feels close enough to you to just drop by for a whole week without giving you any prep time at all, but she doesn't know you well enough to know her dogs wouldn't be welcome in your house. I hope you had a nice but direct talk with her to make sure there are no repeats in the future.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:42 AM
LW1--"I can't figure out why it's so hard for him to express his love if he cares for me as much as he says." That's the problem; he doesn't care for you as much as he says. While the Annie's reached into usual bag of medical excuses and even trotted out the antiquated "maybe he's gay" excuse, as you've already figured out, your husband simply "isn't that into you." You may as well stop trying to change him. You're going to have to make a tough choice: either decide to put aside your own needs for the sake of your family and accept that your marriage is little more than a lonely facade full of emptiness or leave your husband and find a partner who truly loves you and expresses that love in many ways every day. There's another choice, too; you could find a discreet "friends with benefits" who will meet your physical needs but if you do, you should get your husband's full buy-in. None of these is an easy choice. Nobody is perfect and sometimes what seems like green green grass from a distance turns out to have a lot of weeds in it and sometimes a snake or two as well.

LW2--Your sister was incredibly rude and insensitive. Did she expect you to drop everything to attend to her and her two yappy dogs for an entire week? What if you already had plans? The next time your sister pulls this stunt, meet her in the driveway with your suitcase in hand and explain sweetly that while her surprise visit is lovely, you're unfortunately on your way to a spa retreat in the Catskills. Then get in your car and hit the mall for an hour or two. That should teach the clod to have the common courtesy to phone ahead.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris
Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:24 AM
Wow, this is the second time the annies have done this. How come when a man complains his wife doesn't want sex (which is affection for a man) the annies tell him it's not her fault (menopause!), but when a woman complains about a husband's lack of interest in intimacy, one of the possibilites must be that he's having an affair? (Really? For their entire marriage?) How come they NEVER mention that possibility when it's the wife?

This is how the Annies would have answered if they treated genders equally: Dear Selfish, Ungrateful Wife: Intimacy and affection isn't everything in a marriage. You say your husband is a wonderful person and a great father, yet you want to leave him because he doesn't want sex with you? How dare you! The poor man is no doubt going through "men"-opause, causing him to combust into flames at any moment and shudder at the thought of intimacy with anyone. Has it also every occured to you that, as the father of two young girls, he is tired? Perhaps you should help around the house more, or get another job so you can lighten his load of being the family breadwinner. Or maybe it's because you're having an affair, or you're gay. Who knows? All we know is that you are selfish and ungrateful, but then, we too are going through menopause.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Jane
Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:09 AM
Re: LW2 I had a dear friend who was moving across country stop in a few days with her son and two little dogs. They were welcomed and basically had the run of the house. I had 4 cats who were not used to dogs. The biggest one, 23 lb male, was the most terrified and ran out of the house and disappeared for several days till the company left. He had lost 5 lbs. The dogs also left fleas which we did not previously have and the cats all developed tapeworms from those. I treated the cats with over the counter worm meds to which my large male cat had a bad reaction, tremors and muscle weakness and unable to walk for a day. He sort of recovered from that but went downhill for weeks till he died. I will not welcome dogs into my house again.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Peggy Whitted
Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:33 AM
Dear Annie, I am commenting on the letter from the mother worried about her starving sous chef son. What most people don't know, is that in Michigan and alot of states, waitstaff does not even make minnimum wage. I live in Michigan and have 17 years of server experience. Yes, there are some establishments that require the server to pay a percentage of their tips to the kitchen or even bar staff. But all these other employees are at least making minnimum wage or more. I quit working as a server around the year 2000. At that time, I was making $2.65 per hour plus my tips. I depended on those tips, which are not guaranteed, to live on. I was working in the restaurant of a major hotel chain and did have very good health benefits, but my paychecks every two weeks were a little less than $50.00 after taxes and my insurance copay were deducted. You just don't live on that. Not all servers make huge amounts of tips. It depends on where they work. And they depend on the generosity of their customers. With this economy, not everyone tips appropriately. Or they are ignorant to the fact that servers just don't get paid proper wages. Signed, Been there and done that in Michigan
Comment: #10
Posted by: Sandra Kivela
Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:03 AM
Re LW#1--------not to use the Annies' column for a shameless plug for another columnist, but--------do any of you read Carolyn Hax's column? She has the most common sense of any advice columnist I've ever read. If she received this letter, she would cut to the bare bones and say that the LW has only two choices, after first talking to him and seeing if he is willing to change; once she finds out he is not, the choices are to accept him as is (without whining or complaining) or leave him. Carolyn has no patience with someone who keeps moaning about how they want someone else to change and he/she won't.
LW needs to make up her mind-------and if the choice is to stay, do it without whining, and with the realization that she can opt for choice #2 at any time if #1 gets to be too much for her.
Red LW#2------I once had the same problem, and solving it by telling the relative he could not bring his pets when he visited caused a lot of hard feelings on his part, but it solved my problem, which was all I cared about. He was angry because he said he had no other options if he wanted to visit me. I told him he did--------kennels, dog-sitters, or having his kids, who lived in the same town, come over a few times a day to feed and exercise the dogs. So he ended up not happy, but my main concern was that I not have to have his dogs at my home, which is set up for cats that his dogs thought it was fun to chase. I and my cats live here-------he and his dogs do not.
Re LW#3-----Totally agree with the LW. How on earth is the LW going to provide a better life for her younger brothers if she also drags along the problem------their alcoholic mother? Save the kids------they are innocent. Offer a means of help for the mom--------AA or some other group. But do NOT take her into your home. You will just be extending what your brothers are suffering to include yourself.
Comment: #11
Posted by: jennylee
Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:38 AM
Well, Bitey sure got the last word yesterday. ha

Comment: #12
Posted by: jar8818
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:12 AM
Moving alcholic, violent Mom into your house is not extricating the kids from the problem. It's just relocating it to your house and dragging you into it too. Jesus, Annies. Not only was your first advice the worst advice given in a long history of bad advice from you, but now you're building on it. If you seriously think it's a good idea to keep an abusive parent around, you need to hang it up.
Comment: #13
Posted by: limniade
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:19 AM
LW1 -
How was he when you were courting? Was this disaffection present before you married, did it happen right after marriage or gradually over time?

You've already been to the counsellor who gave you the only advice possible and you refused to listen. You are determined to change a sow's ear into a purse. And that's even after you've yourself figured out for yourself that he's "not that into you". If he's not in love with you, there is little you can do. Let me know when you find your magic wand so that I can borrow it.

No, it's not to much to expect a loving gesture once in a while from a husband, if your husband is that kind of a man, but you're not getting that from the husband you currently have. It IS too much to expect a man to change from what he is to what he is not, Miss Pygmalia.

You said you don't want to leave. In that case, I would suggest a huge change in your attitude - start looking at what you have instead of at what you can't get. And what does he do if YOU get affectionate, push you away?

Yeah, try to get him to have his testoterone tested - if he'll go. But if he's "not that into you", it may revive his interest for sex, but not necessarily his interest for you. And please be aware that an increased level of testoterone may have unintended consequences regarding his personality. Your best bet would be to revisit the counsellor's advice and heed it this time.

Men and women don't respond the same way to sex. For the vast majority of women, sex involves emotions, and that's because the "love" hormones oxytocin and two others kick in with every orgasm so that she grows attached to the man who's giving her pleasure. Not only will it likely detach her emotionally from her husband, but she runs a high risk of falling in love with the lover, thus compounding the problem. There will be women for whom this can work, but they'll be in the minority, and she likely doesn,t know in which category she falls. I do not recommend this approach.


LW2 -
Don't tell us. Tell HER. If you've already told her and she ignored it, what makes you think people like that will pay attention to an advice column?

Yes, she should have directed her to a motel or some other accommodation. You're right about that. But I don't agree she should have let them in "just this time", "with the understanding that this was not be repeated in the future". If she is so rude and entitled as to show up unannounced, and with two dogs yet, what she would have "understood" is that if her sister can tolerate it "just this time', she can tolerate it all the time.

And Zoe, she is making a mountain out of a molehill as far as you are concerned, but not as far as SHE is. So this isn't the end of the world to you. It is to her, and she has a right to decide for herself what she considers unacceptable. I don't doubt that there are things you would put in the deal-breaker category that she would find no big deal herself - she is not you and you are not her.

And - the LW is not to be blamed for her sister's dogs being kept in the truck "when she travels" - that is HER choice, not the LW's. She could leave them at home with a pet-sitter or board them in a kennel before she leaves. She chooses not to (probably because she doesn't want to SPEND), and that is not the LW's responsibility.

P.S.: Yes, she should have directed her to a motel. But if she's too cheap to pay for a pet-sitter or a kennel, she'll be too cheap to pay for a motel. At any rate, she should find a friend to place the dogs with if by any chance she can't afford accommodations for them when she travels. Trying to impose them, and unannounced yet, is extremely rude, entitled and selfish, and sending out the message, "I don't care about what you need or want, I only care about what I'm demanding and you WILL service me". The LW was right to put her foot down, otherwise thr sister would have walked all over her - with her dogs.

@Peggy Whitted
Case in point. You paid a high price to learn, and I'm very sorry for your loss.

"that his dogs thought it was fun to chase"
Apparently, so did he. Is that why he was so stinkingly mad, because he didn't get his '"entertainment'? Evidently, being a relative does not makke him a friend, if he doesn't mind your own pets being traumatized.

LW3 -
"We agree that living with Mom would be difficult, but it may be the only way "Colorado" can extricate her brothers and have any control over how they live."

It wouldn't be "difficult", it would be sheer hell and possibly dangerous. And no, it isn't the only way she can extricate her brothers out of there. Hardly. Turn the woman into an enabler, why don't you.

Still fighting for the right to be wrong, heh, Annies? That was one of the WORST advice you've ever given and, as you do with you other extremely bad pieces of advice, you're still pushing it.

Comment: #14
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:26 AM
@ Lise Brouillette

"Not only will it likely detach her emotionally from her husband, but she runs a high risk of falling in love with the lover, thus compounding the problem."

Seems like she's already emotionally detached from her husband. Maybe falling in love with a new lover will help her make the decision to leave or force her husband to get into counseling to figure out why he's so emotionally distant from his wife.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Chris
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:31 AM
Re: Sandra Kivela

Everyone knows that servers make less than minimum wage. Whenever a tipping discussion comes up they don't hesitate to "remind" us. What you apparently don't know is that if your tips + salary don't come up to the normal minimum wage, that your employer has to pay you more so that you make the equivalent of regular minimum wage.

And no, you don't live on that. Contrary to what the movies would make you think, you aren't supposed to be able to be able to live comfortable waiting tables. In real life servers live with their parents, have roommates, are working part time while they go to school, or have a spouse that makes more money. Except for a lucky few, it's not a living wage.

Re: Peggy

You realize that that's not the norm, right? The ideal scenario would have been for you to have segregated the dogs from your cats. That cats wouldn't have liked it but they would have been fine. Your obese (?) cat may have brought in fleas from outside, but in future one should examine friends' pets when they come in. I don't mean take it to a vet or anything, but fleas are pretty easy to spot and so are some diseases. In other words, if it looks sickly or infested, don't let it in.

Lastly, don't get medicines from the store. You can't even get those tape worm meds like that here in Canada - through the vet only. It's more expensive but they can control the dosage and may have an idea whether a cat is in a state to have that medication, which your 23 lbs - now 18 lbs - cat may not have been (fatty liver comes to mind).

But yes, ultimately the easiest way to avoid communicable diseases/parasites is to prevent your pets from encountering others, so by letting them outside (still floors me that people do this) or by letting other pets into your home. Luckily there are now many hotels/motels that accept pets! And they won't hesitate to charge a guest to take care of a flea infestation.

Re: Lise B

Contemporary research shows that men are just as emotionally needy when it comes to sex, as women are. They are just conditioned by society not to show it.

I understand it's a bigger deal for her than it is to me but one has to try to be objective. Ultimately, it's NOT that big a deal, since she says these dogs are well behaved and at worst shed and dig a hole in the yard.

I disagree that she was not responsible for the dogs left in the truck. EVERYone involved that week was responsible for it. Everyone had to say "okay, let's just leave them in truck" and go about their days, ignoring the dogs. Just like everyone who talks by a dog or a baby in a sweltering hot car in the summer and does nothing is responsible. Just like every person who walked by that little girl who got hit by a bus in China and ignored her is responsible. Being part of a society makes you responsible for speaking out and reacting against the mistreatment of others - including the animals we have decided should live with us.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Zoe
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:52 AM
Re: sarah stravinska
I can think of three possible answers to your question about LW1:
1) She was paying more attention to her own emotions at the time.
2) She was an old-fashioned girl who didn't expect much physical intimacy before marriage.
3) He did make more of an effort before the marriage, but now thinks, in the words of Archie Bunker, "You don't keep running after you've caught the bus."
Comment: #17
Posted by: Jon V
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:52 AM
Re: Chris

Yes, I know, and you're right about that, but that is the wrong way to do it. It could lead to a very messy divorce, once the husband realises he has lost his wife, whom he seems to value on some level, otherwise HE would be divorcing.

Even if he originally agrees to this (which is far from certain), when he realises it's going way too far, he may renege and refuse to even admit he ever agreed to it - which means her children, the family, the friends, the judge, EVERYBODY - will have to choose between what he says and what she says. Given that this is a rather unfrequent arrangement, I don't see them believing HER. I see a lot of things and relationship potentially damaged here, starting with her reputation. That's why I definitely don't recommend it.

Comment: #18
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:55 AM
Re: Lise Brouillette

"Miss Pygmalia" - Lulz!
Comment: #19
Posted by: Snarf
Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:10 AM
LW1 - You can change someone's behavior a little, but you have to start with yourself. Do you keep yourself clean, brush your teeth, comb your hair, meet your hubby with a smile when he comes home? Make him feel wanted? After 15 years it is so easy to gradually become careless/a slob. Check yourself first. Then begin giving hugs, back rubs, etc., without expectations. lc
Comment: #20
Posted by: LC
Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:11 AM
LW1-If you want to stay married, try changing yourself. Here is my story: My husband was a true alcoholic. One sip changed his personality. He had a DUI, he got fired, I had a cop show up and my door and he said, "Lady, your husband is a dick." Not very professional of him, but a totally true observation. When he didn't drink, he was amazing, but when he did, I also changed. I had an epiphany about 3 years into my marriage- I could not change my husband, but I could change myself. Instead of overreacting, pouting, silent treatment, fleeing to my mother's house, etc., I could react differently. I prayed for God to soften my heart towards him. I knew he turned to alcohol to mask feelings of pain and abandonment, so I prayed that I would be patient and not provoke fights when he was drunk or recovering from a hangover. I was kind and loving and I prayed for him constantly. Well miraculously, it began to work in just a few weeks. He began to want to stop drinking, but he just couldn't on his own. He went into AA, joined a medication study for alcoholics at a local medical university, which also offered free counseling, and we did this Bible study at church. It was called Cleansing Streams, and it is a nationwide ministry. You have three months of teachings and Bible study, then you go on a retreat. It was life changing for both of us. He no longer drinks. I am not a bitch anymore. We are going on 19 years and we still love each other. I know this sounds a little preachy, but miracles can happen. I felt justified at my reactions. I was the injured party. It was MY RIGHT to be angry at my drunk husband. But when I realized my role in the dysfunction, that's when things began to turn around. Divorce is awful, especially when children are involved. If he is not abuse or sleeping around (marriage deal breakers 100% of the time in my book), then what have you got to lose by seeing if you can change him by looking at ways to change yourself?
Sidebar note- Later on, he had a major lack of sex drive for a few months. It turned out to be a major shortfall of vitamin D. Problem solved!
Comment: #21
Posted by: Stephanie
Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:30 AM
LW1 - I, too, wonder what he was like when they were dating. If he was the same way he is now, well, you get what you pay for. But if he turned it off after years of marriage and kids, then it could be a number of things. I agree that you should give it one last try. If he continues to ignore you, then I say take the next step and file for divorce. I do not think intimacy amongst a married couple is too much to ask for. And I always say the same when men write in about their wives acting like they're their sister.

LW2 - It amazes me the gall people have. I would never ever just show up at someone's house, especially with pets, and say, "I'll be here for a week." You've got some major cojones if you do that. Next time, be firm and say no. A simple, "I'm sorry, but I wasn't expecting you and I can't accommodate you. You'll have to find a hotel." And that's it. No explanation, no nothing is needed.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Michelle
Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:49 AM
jennylee - high five, sister! Carolyn Hax is, in my opinion as well, the best advice giver around. She gets to the heart of it immediately, asks the right questions, and pulls the blinders off the eyes all the while being remarkably civil. I like Amy Alkon too, but she tends to go on too-clever-for-words tangents. Really like her research, though.

Just a thought on LW1. When was it - and how did it happen - that we all started thinking that if we didn't feel "loved" every day, the marriage was dysfunctional? I'm thinking about my great-grandmother, a tough mid-western pioneer type who bore - and bragged about raising to adulthood without losing one - nine children, (born at home, of course) made the clothes, raised the garden, preserved the food...all of it, and lived to be 96. Her husband farmed, built the house, built the furniture, etc. It's almost comic to imagine her in the modern woman scenario of getting huffy because Silas didn't hug her enough or leave her little love notes. We've changed, life has changed - is this a media thing? Did the movies make us think that love had to be demonstrating itself all the time or it wasn't there and we were being cheated? And who benefits from that thinking? I'm just typing out loud here.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:49 AM
@Zoe re Peggy
Even if she had segregated the dogs from the cats, the dogs would still have filled the house with fleas, which directly led to the death of one of her cats.

And, Zoe, the people ignoring a little girl being hit by a truck are responsible for not calling help, that yes. They are NOT responsible for hitting her. People seeing a child or a pet in a car under the sun have the responsibility to call the proper authorities. They are NOT responsible for leaving the child or the pet in the car. That goes for the sister and her dogs.

The LW should have suggested other accomodations and possibly called SPCA if the truck was in the heat (evidently it wasn't, otherwise there would have been consequences), but she has a right to decide what she wants and not wants in her own home. It's like holding babies and children at weddings, you know? Not everybody likes drooling things running amok in the house and jumping all over the furniture. ;-)

What this boils down to is the far more serious offense of showing up unannounced, and with two dogs yet, and expecting to be hosted for a week. If the sister had called beforehand, the LW would have had the option to decide if she wanted to accept the dogs just this once, or suggested other accommodations. As it is, the sister tried to force her hand, probably because she knew the answer already, and taking for granted she had nothing else to do but host her for a week. Had the LW buckled under, the entitled sister would have used that to create a precedent. As in, but you tolerated it "last time", what's the big, fat, hairy deal THIS time, with possibly half the family piling on and siding with her. The LW was perfectly right to put her foot down and it was actually the only way to prevent the problem from becoming unmanageable.

About men and sex, for openers, considering the extent of the social conditioning, it is extremely difficult to separate what constitutes social conditioning and what comes from differences in the brain. And then, millenia of social conditioning do effect changes in the brain - research has shown that too. So it kind of becomes like the chicken and the egg, you know?

That is irrelevant anyway in the sense that it doesn't really make a difference what has triggered the differences in behaviour from the moment they are there. Telling the people "society is making them do it" is not going to make them stop doing it, not to mention that people's behaviour is rarely caused by only one factor and the many different reasons will change depending on the people. It also makes a difference whether people's behaviour is dysfuctional, and therefore reactional, or a normal expression of a balanced personality.

Comment: #24
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:54 AM
LW1 - Maybe it's not that John "is not that into" you. Maybe he's just not that into emotional intimacy. Maybe he didn't grow up with it, maybe it's just not a real need he has. It's been a problem all through your marriage yet you brought two kids into it. This is John's issue to fix and I agree with your therapist: learn to live with it or move on. As will most problems here there is not majic pill, phrase or word that will just make it better.

LW2 - I would seriously prefer if most people just dropped off their dogs and then went on their way for a couple weeks.

LW3 - Give it up. The Annie's won't back down.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Rick
Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:00 AM
@ Lise Brouillette

"People seeing a child or a pet in a car under the sun have the responsibility to call the proper authorities."

Be careful. Witnessing a child being hit by a truck would require the witness to call the proper authorities because that is a criminal act (e.g., a law has been broken.) Leaving a pet unattended in a car may not violate any laws therefore witnesses are not responsible for alerting authorities. Having the opinion that something isn't right is not sufficient cause to intervene if no laws are being broken.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Chris
Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:02 AM
jennylee and Maggie Lawrence and even Stephanie have the right of this.
LW: I don't think it's too much for a woman to need occasional loving physical gestures from her husband.

Well, how's that working for ya? You set your expectations to the point where THIS particular husband ain't meeting 'em, and your choices are 1: Get divorced 2. Stay in the marriage endlessly unhappy or 3. change your expectations!

LW: I can't figure out why it's so hard for him to express his love if he cares for me as much as he says.

Because, duh, some people were raised NOT to express their love, lest it be used against them later. Because some guys are taught it's unmanly to express love. Because sometimes they're preoccupied with stress at work.

LW says: I don't want to leave, but things could be so much better if John would only put a little more effort into our marriage. Any suggestions on how to improve things? Or am I just destined to have an emotionless relationship?

Why yes, you are, with that mindset. In your letter, I see no mention of the loving little gestures YOU make, which makes me think that things could be so much better if only YOU would put a little more effort into your marriage. WITHOUT the bean counting -- "I fixed John his favorite meal so he needs to compliment me on it." "I cleaned the bathroom even though it's his turn, so he's going to tell me how much he appreciates it."

If what you've got is a guy who's insecure about voicing "I love you" or never thinks to bring you flowers, it makes it WAY easier for him to resp0ond "I love you, too" or decide on a whim to pick up something special for you if you've surprised him with something nice than it does to say "Gina's husband got her a diamond heart for Valentine's Day -- Sarah's husband sent her flowers to the office. Why can't you do something like that?"
Comment: #27
Posted by: hedgehog
Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:44 AM
LW1: People are different!!! Different people appreciate and express love in different ways. Some people are really "into" gifts and notes and other people are totally blind to that type of affection--but it doesn't mean that they don't love you. My husband spoke several languages, and if he were to read love poetry to me in one of the others, it could be very meaningful to him and mean nothing to me. On the other hand, if the husband's "love language" is providing and taking care of his family, his wife might not recognize this as an act of love, not just responsbility. There are books and seminars out there on recognizing and working with different "love languages" and that just might be a breakthrough for this family.
Comment: #28
Posted by: partsmom
Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:22 PM
"I can't figure out why it's so hard for him to express his love if he cares for me as much as he says." You are putting him in the same intractable position he puts you in when he asks why you can't “just be happy.” You have both staked out the position that the OTHER person needs to change and, thus are being selfish. You have only written to ask how to change HIM, not what YOU can do to change the situation. Your councilor was right – live with it or get a divorce but you don't want to have to change YOUR expectations, only his. You have a vision of what your marriage SHOULD be but refuse to accept what it IS and won't accept any other options.

Why is it that the Annie's always trot out the gay thing with men but never with women? Even though, as we all know here, that menopause is the cause of all marital problems for any woman over 40, the Annie's never suggest that maybe the wife has suddenly discovered she is gay. Lots of women either suppress it or don't realize until much later in life because marriage/house/2.5 children has always been the only really acceptable way of life for most women and is their only goal after graduation.

Comment: #8
Posted by: Jane - Very funny!

Comment: #11
Posted by: jennylee - I think you were inside my head when you wrote this. I agree with every word, especially about Carolyn Hax. Straightforward, common sense advice with no sugar-coating for ego's sake and she seems to cover every angle possible.

Comment: #23
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence – I couldn't agree with you more about Amy Alkon. She sometimes goes off on tangents that, due to her trying to be clever, can be very confusing.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Julie
Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:37 PM
Re: Chris
Are there any places where it's legal to leave a child alone in a car at any time? Don't know. When it comes to animals, I'm not sure where the law lies in Montreal, I'll try remembering checking with my lawyer the next time I see him regarding my landlord. But I do know where the moral obligation lies. I don't know how the summers are where you are, but here, any living being left in a car in the heat risks severe heat stroke and possibly death, even with the windows open. Especially SMALL living beings like children and animals. And it doesn't take long - less less than half an hour depending on the heat and the sun exposure. There have been tragic cases, and more than one.

Most definitely, if I saw an animal or a child left alone in a car in the heat, I would call the cops, or CPS, or SPCA, and possibly all of the above. If something happens to that poor thing, it won't be because *I* didn't do my civic duty

Comment: #30
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:44 PM
LW1: You don't have to love someone in order to care about their feelings. When you want to maintain a relationship with someone and that someone tells you they are unhappy and need more than you act to meet that need. You don't just do it because you care about them but because you care about yourself. Only a butthole expects better than they give. It's hard to feel sorry for you when you married a butthole, stay married for 15 years, and breeded with him. What does that make you?

LW2: How about next time someone shows up with pets you tell them that the pets can stay but they have to sleep in their car?

LW3: If the mother doesn't come with how will she be able to continue to ruin her children? Annies need damaged people to write in for advice. You're messing with their ability to make money with your logic and common sense so stop it.
Comment: #31
Posted by: Diana
Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:54 PM
I dated a guy just like LW1 for about 4 and a half years. He never showed emotion. Never. Only when he wanted sex, and that was for, oh 5 five minutes or so. I used to call him my statue. His brother was exactly the same. It was because that was the way they were raised, with a cold, icy mother (his father, on the other hand, was a hoot). But I knew he loved me. We broke up eventually, and I am now married to a wonderful, loving man, and thank my lucky stars for him and the happy family we have.

So my point is, was he like that when you were dating? Here you are now, with children and a good provider, and you've had enough. Is it worth ruining your family over? Your situation sounds absolutely miserable, and I feel bad for you. So I suggest you listen to the other posters here, and find a way to change your own behavior, because that is the only control you have over the situation. Change your attitude over the situation, pamper yourself, get a hobby. Good luck, your going to need it.
Comment: #32
Posted by: happymom
Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:44 PM
Oh, there's lots of stories about a man being one way before marriage and another way after, since he bagged the girl and doesn't "need" to woo her anymore, so don't be too hard on the LW. She said it's been an issue throughout their marriage, so sounds like it wasn't a problem before.

Dr Phil had a couple on once where the man didn't even want sex after marriage, which boggled my mind, but that was the case and his wife was so frustrated. It does happen.

Happily married people do not think like that, do they? A couple told me that you have to keep courting each other all thru the years and they have been married for 46 years now. Marriage is work, not a hobby.

Comment: #33
Posted by: jar8818
Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:38 PM
Ah, if I had a dime for every woman who wanted to be hugged just once a day, I could have been the highest paid gigolo who never slept with the ladies. I think this guy is going through a mid-life crisis. He doesn't want to worry about things, so he just ignores them. The wife should be careful before she decides to rattle any cages. She may not like what she lets loose.
Since they have been to counseling, she should wait for the 18-year-old to move out and then discreetly divorce him with the nicest grounds possible. It's been my experience that the very subdued men are the ones to be left alone.
Comment: #34
Posted by: TheRichcraft
Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:53 PM
Re: Chris, 26--'Having the opinion that something isn't right is not sufficient cause to intervene if no laws are being broken.'
i grew up in new jersey, about a 15 minute drive from manhattan. there were news stories of people being arrested for animal cruelty every year. in 2010 we moved to pennsylvania, where the nearest tv station focuses on philadelphia. there are still stories about arrests for animal cruelty. so in new jersey, new york and pennsylvania at least, it is illegal to leave children and animals in the car. i can't speak for the rest of the country as i never lived there.

i have the reverse problem...about ten years ago, my brother-in-law and his wife moved to another part of the country. there were always good reasons why we couldn't visit them. they are retired and have the leisure to travel. now that we are retired, they are re-extending their invitation to visit in such a way that we feel it would be insulting for us to refuse. the problem is one of our cats has diabetes and needs insulin twice a day. we were told to bring the cat with us. now, the logistics of a ten-hour drive, being in a strange place, with a dog will be the cat's worst nightmare [if cats dream]. while at our house, there is a designated space for her litterbox that is easy to keep clean. i don't know where we will be able to put her box, but she does 'scatter' the litter and i will feel under stress to be sweeping it up constantly. because of the stress to the cat, my husband has decided to call in a pet sitter [we have someone to feed them, it's just the shots that are problematic.] to come in and give her the shots. this will cost us $25/day. so in addition to the cost of the gas, the cost of overnight at a motel [or the stress of driving ten hours straight] we will also have the additional $100-$175 for the cat sitter. {{{{{sigh}}}}} we had hoped to get the house painted this spring. maybe next year.
Comment: #35
Posted by: alien07110
Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:47 AM
"John" and I have been married for 15 years. He is a wonderful person and a great father to our two young girls."

Great father? What do you think he's teaching your daughters about LOVE? Do you want your daughters to grow up thinking that a loveless marriage is normal? What kind of men do you think they will gravitate towards: loving men who want to partner with their wives or men who are emotionally absent from them?

Your daughters are paying attention and see more than you know. Now, it's your turn to pay attention and make some hard decisions.
Comment: #36
Posted by: nanchan
Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:41 AM
@ Lise, alien07110

I wasn't referring to leaving a child in a car; I was strictly referring to pets. I actually parked next to an SUV at a local coffee shop one hot day which was running and had a lap dog in it. That truck was left running for over an hour with the air-conditioning on while some woman in a hair salon in the same strip had her hair done. What a waste of resources! Why not simply leave the animal home if it's too hot to leave it in the car?
Comment: #37
Posted by: Chris
Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:13 AM
It must be hard to maintain a winsome attitude to life without some affection from your spouse. If you don't want to leave the marriage, try different avenues to get involved with each other. Can you take dancing lessons, do something sporty or outdoors, cook together more often, learn massage, foreign language or a new craft, join activities at church or school? Spending time together will surely bring you closer. You would have more opportunities to make small overtures - touch his hand, look him in the eye.
Comment: #38
Posted by: Word A Day Mate
Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:52 PM
Re: Chris
I don't know about your neck of the wood, but in Montreal, you can't leave a car idling for more than a few minutes. Any cop seeing that here would not only have called SPCA, but would have issued her a giant ticket and possibly towed the car - a car left running for over an hour is a car theft begging to happen. (What a complete idiot, the hair she needed a hair-do on so much must have been growing inwards as well!)

Comment: #39
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:28 AM
@Lise - This is also true of my state. A law was passed in one county a few years ago where people can't even leave their cars running while unattended in their own drive ways. This law was passed because so many car thefts were reported during the morning commute hours when people would go outside and start the car to let it warm up, then go back in the house to finish getting ready, that police resources were stretched to the max investigating this type of theft alone.

I know that it is illegal to leave children unattended in a car in my state. I believe the same is true of pets as I have heard stories of the police breaking car windows to release pets from hot vehicles... although I don't know if the owners were ticketed.
Comment: #40
Posted by: sharnee
Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:44 PM
Re: Lise BrouilletteThanks, Lise, Punkin wasn't that obese, just an abnormally big cat that could put his huge paws on the table and see what you are eating. The cats who were afraid of the dogs isolated themselves till one of the dogs found Punkin. We can get many de-wormers over the counter-he just was sensitive to that medication.
Comment: #41
Posted by: Peggy Whitted
Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:08 PM
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