Dear Annie: After more than 13 years of marriage to an intelligent and lovely woman, our relationship continues to be a rollercoaster ride. We are in our 60s. I was married once before. She has had three prior marriages and divorces. We each have adult children.
It seems she has underlying hostility toward me and anyone else whose choices do not meet with her approval. She complains of not having a life and being only a housekeeper, even though she keeps all of her own income and I pay all of our bills, providing her with an allowance. We also travel well. She complains that I'm not home enough, but we spend two hours together over morning coffee, and I return home from work by 6 p.m. Then I end up eating dinner alone while she retreats to another part of the house to play puzzles or talk with her girlfriends. I stay home every weekend so we can be together, but she shows no affection to me at all.
I see her as controlling and deeply depressed, at least around me. We tried a few sessions with a counselor, but she refused to go back. She's convinced she doesn't need help and that I am responsible for our disconnect. Any thoughts about how I can help us? — Need Direction
Dear Need: When someone describes a relationship as a "rollercoaster ride," it tends to mean extreme ups and downs. If this is the case, your assessment that your wife is depressed could be accurate, but she also could be bipolar. Unfortunately, if she refuses to consider that she might need medical or psychiatric assistance, little will change. Please encourage her to see her doctor, but also contact the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (dbsalliance.org).
Dear Annie: Last weekend my granddaughter and her beau came for a visit. He is a young professional. I noticed that he did not open the car door for her, nor did he pull out a chair for her in the dining room. I asked my son about this behavior, and he said since women want to be on an equal basis with men, such courtesy no longer prevails. Am I missing something? — Old School
Dear Old School: Some women do not want men to open doors or pull out chairs for them, and many men are reluctant to do these things for fear they will be castigated as anti-feminist. We believe it is a kindness to open a door for anyone, male or female, and to pull out a chair for someone who appreciates it. But this type of courtesy is between your granddaughter and her beau. Please don't criticize their choices.
Dear Annie: I sympathize with "Loving Daughter," whose aunts and uncles offered no support to her mother during her illness.
My husband was extremely ill for the last three years of his life. His siblings neither called nor sent cards. They lived out of state, so I didn't expect them to travel, but they were in a position to do so. I sent regular emails informing them of his treatments and his deteriorating health, and encouraging them to call him. It didn't happen. Their infrequent emails said they were "too upset" to talk about it. He would call, and they would only talk about how successful they were. Not once did he hear, "How are you?" My siblings called, emailed, sent cute cards and offered to help in any way. But his own family wasn't there for him. I was angry for the heartache it caused my husband, wondering why they disappeared when he needed them.
After his death, they all sent cards of sympathy. I have since forgiven them and hope someday they understand the pain they caused. But they will have to ask God for forgiveness then, because it is too late to make it up to their dear brother. — Gone but Always in my Heart
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2013. 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.