Dear Annie: I am an active person, and my wife used to be until a bout with cancer. She no longer has the physical endurance she once did. I try to make this work with shorter trips, shorter walks and simpler activities.
But when I want to do something that she is unable to do, she becomes angry and resentful that I would even consider going fishing or golfing, taking a hunting trip, gardening or going into the city to visit friends for the day. I do ask her to do all of these things, but she usually says no.
I'm trying not to be insensitive. I clean our home and cook and do all the yard work and the heavy lifting. But she says that's not "help"; it's what any husband ought to do. My wife holds up her end of our life's bargain as best she can without complaint, and I have no complaint about her efforts. But I am not disabled, and neither is she — she's simply limited. She does yoga and has a pottery class each week, but I have little interest in those activities. Yet when I ask whether she would like to "go do something for the day," she has a small fit. And if I make plans to do something by myself or with a pal, she gets angry.
Watching the world go by is not something I want to do. Is it fair for me to forgo the things I love because she can't or won't join in? — Actively Confused
Dear Confused: You shouldn't have to give up all activities because your wife is not able to join you, but how long has it been since she finished her cancer treatments? Might she regain her strength and once again be able to join you? You might be expecting too much for this moment in time.
Please understand that your wife is sad that she cannot do these things, so she resents when you make plans without her. It's as if you are flaunting your health, and you don't value her as she is. It might help for the two of you to speak to her oncologist and outline what activities are appropriate. Then try to compromise. Perhaps she would take that short trip with you if you would sign up for a yoga class.
Dear Annie: You frequently publish letters about women's health. What about men's health? Your female readers must care about the health of their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. I see very little in the media about men's health, and yet men, on average, live five years less than women.
Would you please advise your readers, both women and men, to urge men to get annual physical checkups at a doctor's office, including prostate exams? Almost as many men die of prostate cancer every year as women die of breast cancer. — R.O.
Dear R.O.: Not exactly. According to the American Cancer Society, 29,480 men are expected to die from prostate cancer in 2014, compared with 40,000 women dying from breast cancer. (And both are second to lung cancer.) But you are right that men's health is important and should be taken seriously. We have printed many letters in our column on topics including prostate cancer, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, depression and low testosterone. We hope all men will get regular checkups to keep their bodies and minds in good shape.
Dear Annie: I'd like to relate a more positive experience in response to "Unhappy Mother of a Son." I had a wonderful mother-in-law who treated me as if I were her own daughter. I believed she must be pretty great to raise a man with whom I wanted to spend my life. My own mother died when I was 15, so I appreciated having a Mom to help me learn to cook and take care of twin daughters. I'm sorry for any daughter-in-law who misses out on this kind of relationship. — Hutchinson, Kans.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.