Dear Annie: I am 45 years old, married 11 years. My wife and I were both married before and have grown children from our first marriages. We have a 10-year-old son together.
Here's the problem. My wife treats me like I am 15 years old. She expects me to come home from work and sit in front of the television. I have friends who I am not allowed to socialize with, nor am I permitted to go to any of their homes. I have been invited to go fishing with the guys, which includes an overnight stay, and she said I can't go (although it is fine if I take my son fishing, just the two of us).
My wife likes to have time to herself, but it's a no-no for me. I can go to bed early while she stays up, but if she is tired, I have to go to bed when she does. I am not allowed to stay up by myself. I even have to go to the store when she goes.
I am tired of it and have no intention of living the rest of my life like this. What do you suggest? — Not 15 in Nebraska
Dear Not 15: Your wife needs to control everything you do because she is terribly insecure. Worse, for the past 11 years, you have given her the impression that she can get away with it. Your wife must learn that even with more freedom you won't betray her, so assert yourself in a firm, non-threatening way. ("No, I'm not tired yet. I'll come to bed later." Repeat.) Overnight trips with your buddies will be harder to finesse.
Some marriage counseling would probably be useful, so each of you can express your needs to an impartial third party. It's certainly worth looking into before your resentment boils over completely.
Dear Annie: I work with a man who is constantly eating at his desk. All day long, there are bowls of cereal, fruit or salad and boxes of crackers, and in between, he chews gum or slurps cans of pop. While none of these things is particularly pleasant, what's impossible to ignore is that he never closes his mouth except to smack his lips.
My supervisor says this is my problem, and he has no plans to ask the man to stop eating at his desk. He says I should "grow up and get over it." I say it's bad manners on my co-worker's part and he needs to develop some business etiquette. What do you say? — Fed Up in Oregon
Dear Oregon: Of course your co-worker should eat with his mouth closed, as should everyone. This is especially annoying in a small office where you cannot avoid hearing and seeing. Since your supervisor will not intervene, you may as well speak to your co-worker directly. Say nicely, "Bob, I'm sure you don't realize that you eat with your mouth open. Would you mind keeping the sound effects down, please?" If that doesn't help, invest in some headphones and turn your chair away.
Dear Annie: A few years back, after a long hard day at work, I took off all my clothes when I got home and realized how great it felt to be naked. Since I lived alone, I continued to be nude while at home. I have shades that provide privacy, and I keep a robe handy in case I need to answer the door.
The problem is I have fallen in love with "Jim," and we are talking about marriage. His thinks nudity is OK only in bed or in the shower. I won't force him to be naked if he doesn't want to, but I am not prepared to give up my nudity, either. Indeed, I often am uncomfortable even in loose-fitting clothes.
This is our only major area of disagreement. What should I do? — Connecticut Cutie
Dear Conn.: Tell Jim how you feel, and ask if he'll join you, or at least not object to your nudity at home. If he is unwilling to bend on this issue, either the nudity goes, or Jim does.
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.