Dear Annie: I've been married to "Lily" for 15 years, and we have two teenagers. We've built a good life. But Lily is an unhappy person. And while I've not been an angel, she never acknowledges that her unhappiness contributes to our problems. She walks around with a chip on her shoulder.
Lily is a stay-at-home mom, but she does no cooking and the house is a mess. She's made it clear that when I want to speak to her, I need to do it when she's not reading, surfing the Internet or watching TV. Even though I have to get up at 4 a.m., she insists on doing puzzles in bed with the light on. When I return home, she never greets me. I have to go over to the sofa where she is sitting in order to give her a kiss hello, which annoys her because I'm disturbing her TV watching.
When Lily is immersed in a project (family genealogy, high school reunion, whatever), she neglects the entire family and sees nothing wrong with it. While she does not want me associating with any friends I had prior to our marriage, she regularly entertains her ex-husband (when I'm out of town), dresses up for him and cooks dinner for him. Yet she is outrageously jealous of any female I associate with, even a colleague.
I could barely tolerate this when Lily was on antidepressants, but she stopped a year ago, and things got worse. She'd scream at me and our youngest daughter for no reason. She became paranoid that I was having an affair and, with no evidence, declared herself a victim of infidelity and asked for a divorce.
So I met with a divorce lawyer and was surprised to hear from a large number of friends and family who were past targets of Lily's screaming fits and were willing to say so in court. I've asked Lily to go for counseling, but she refuses. She stopped seeing the last counselor when he said she needed to work on herself. Things have settled down because she's on another project and ignoring us. But I worry about what she's doing to our youngest daughter. Would it be wrong to research how to have her committed? — Frightened for My Girls
Dear Frightened: That seems extreme. Lily sounds severely depressed and possibly bipolar. The right medication and therapy could do wonders for her, but she has to be willing. Your girls are nearly adults. A better option for you might be divorce and custody. A judge could mandate therapy for Lily as a condition of seeing her children. Meanwhile, please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org) for information and referrals.
Dear Annie: I am friends with an out-of-state couple who visit me briefly twice a year. I've known them for decades, and we share many good memories.
Since my husband's death, they feel the need to instruct me on how to handle everything in my life, including home maintenance, personal relationships and the brand of computer I use. When they leave, I am exhausted. They mean well, but I am capable and independent. How do I tactfully tell them to butt out? — Baffled in Boston
Dear Baffled: If you cannot tolerate their intrusive bossiness twice a year, it's time to say, "I appreciate your concerns, but I'm managing very well, thanks." Repeat as needed, and ignore the rest.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Tired and Disgusted Other Half." I, too, was the other half. My ex-husband was always right about everything. I was put down in front of family and friends and made the butt of his jokes.
He controlled every aspect of our lives. I thought we were partners, but he made all the decisions. I stayed because I didn't think I could make it on my own. After 35 years, I finally left and couldn't be happier. It is never too late. — Happy
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. 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.