Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for only 18 months. Things were blissful for the first year, and then things took a drastic change. One day, he told me he has lost the "in love" feeling.
Apparently, he had felt animosity for some time, but I had no idea. He chose to hold his emotions in, and over time, the result was that he stopped loving me. He now spends four days a week with friends and comes home past midnight. I don't believe he is cheating. When he was single, he chose to live a sheltered life.
My husband is aware that his behavior is extreme. Could this be a midlife crisis, even though he is only 36? How can I help him through this stage? — Newlywed Blues
Dear Newlywed: Every married couple has a period of adjustment, but we think there is more to your husband's story than what he is telling you. You cannot expect his behavior to improve on its own. Unless he is willing to be honest and address what is wrong, there is unlikely to be any change in your relationship.
Counseling could help get to the bottom of it, provided your husband is cooperative. If not, please decide whether you want to remain in this marriage, because what is going on may not get better, and even if it does, this type of sudden coldness could happen repeatedly if the two of you do not learn to communicate more clearly.
Dear Annie: You often suggest that family members try to work out their differences if there is an estrangement. But there are two sides to every story.
My husband and I were treated horrendously by a family member, and every relative allowed it to continue even though they were fully aware of the pain it caused us. The stress was constant and created physical as well as emotional issues. After trying to work it out, we finally made the painful decision to separate ourselves from this part of the family.
Just because you are related to someone does not mean you have to allow yourself to be abused or bullied. It is frustrating to read letters from those who "don't know why Betty won't speak to the family." I'm sure many of them know perfectly well why. They simply choose not to acknowledge the part they may have played in Betty's decision. — Tired of Being the Bad Guys
Dear Tired: In many instances, this is true. People put their heads in the sand when it is too complicated to look around and shake things up. We usually suggest people make an effort to see whether family relationships can be repaired. But we don't expect anyone to tolerate horrible behavior that won't change. You made the effort. It didn't work. You then did what was necessary for your mental and physical health.
Dear Annie: I had to laugh when I read the letter from "Perplexed in Pennsylvania," who is upset that her best friend keeps forgetting her birthday. That could be me. It could also be my best friend.
You see, in today's world, we sometimes get too busy to stop and smell the roses and remember the birthdays of those we care about. It certainly doesn't mean we care any less. I sometimes forget the birthdays of my own children and siblings. I may remember several days in advance and then forget on the actual day and feel sorry afterward. But it's not the end of the world.
Every now and then, my friends and I have a special lunch together to celebrate our friendship. We do not exchange gifts, because we all have more "things" than we need. A fun card is just that, and it's good at any time. "Perplexed" should think of what she can do for herself on her special day. — One Who Knows in Oklahoma
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.