Dear Annie: I have been married to "Dennis" for 15 years. The first 10 were pretty good, but this last year has been miserable.
We have four children, all under age 8. Dennis works during the week, and I work weekends so one of us can always be home with the kids. We've had this set-up for four years, and it was working just fine.
Seven months ago, Dennis began acting very lethargic and would often sleep the entire weekend, 48 hours straight. My kids would call me at work and complain that Dad would not get up to fix meals or change the baby's diaper. I work 12-hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday, and one time I came home and our youngest had been in a poopy diaper all day. Dennis was still in bed.
I finally got him to a doctor, and he was diagnosed with depression and put on medication. It worked for a while, but then he went back to his old ways. I have since cut back my hours, which now makes our financial situation strained.
Amazingly, while Dennis is still sleeping on the weekends, he's perfectly fine come Monday. What is going on? If a person is really depressed, could he hop up and be happy when it is time to go to work? Not only that, but he is really rude to me and downright mean to the children on the weekends. Please help us. — Clueless in California
Dear Clueless: It's possible that Dennis musters all his energy for work, then crashes at home. Or perhaps something at work excites Dennis enough to perk him up, but his home life depresses him. If that's the case, you need to find out what's going on and see what can be done about it. Tell Dennis that, for the sake of your marriage, you would like him to go with you for counseling. Ask your doctor for a referral, and if he won't go, go without him. Your children need you to do this NOW.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Somewhere in the USA," who bought his wife a sexy outfit for their 20th anniversary, and she exchanged it for elastic-waist pants and practical shoes.
You said his wife may have thought the outfit was sleazy and to stop buying her Nancy Sinatra boots. I say YES — get out the Nancy Sinatra boots! Buying his wife a sexy outfit was such a loving thing for him to do. His wife's response was rude and insensitive. It's as if she is asking him to look elsewhere for his romance.
I am a 57-year-old woman, and my husband has given me many such items over the past 30 years — things I would never buy for myself, but which I would never insult him by returning. I wear them as my way of thanking him for keeping our romance alive after all these years.
Would this ungrateful wife prefer to be given a blender? Please let the men out there know that she doesn't speak for the rest of us. — Still Sexy in New Hampshire
Dear N.H.: We applaud any couple that keeps the romantic spark going, boots or not. But wearing such sexy outfits requires a playful attitude and, unfortunately, not everyone has one. If "Somewhere's" wife finds these outfits distasteful and returns them, continuing to buy such gifts will only be a source of disappointment for both of them. He needs to find another way.
Dear Annie: May I add one more comment about the woman whose mother-in-law referred to her as an "outlaw"?
In our family, since our spouses are legally in-laws, it is the brothers and sisters who are referred to as "outlaws." — Kathy in Iowa
Dear Kathy: You clever people, you. (Sounds like there may be a few lawyers in your family.)
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. 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.