Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: I have been reading your column for a long time, hoping someone would write in about my problem, but it hasn't happened, so here I am.
My husband is 52 years old. We have been married for 15 years. Although I was a willing and responsive partner, I realized early on he wasn't particularly interested in sex after the newness wore off. He said he would rather make the moves — then didn't. Then I had to be the aggressor, or absolutely nothing would happen.
A bigger problem, however, is his thumb sucking. It started about a year ago. When I enter the room, he will jerk his thumb out of his mouth. He does this while watching TV or after dinner when he reads the paper. I'm concerned because it seems to be getting worse with time.
I find this very distressing, but there are many positives to our relationship. He is a hard worker and a wonderful grandfather, and he acts as if he loves me dearly. I am too tired for a major life change and too humiliated to discuss this with anyone but you. Please respond in print. — No Name, No City
Dear N.N.N.C.: Your husband's thumb sucking may be a major turnoff, but it is not grounds for divorce. Actually, it is a release from stress. The thumb sucking helps him revisit his early years, when life was peaceful and uncomplicated. Some men drink when life gets stressful. Others cheat. I hope he will consider counseling because this man needs help.
Dear Ann Landers: My ex-husband and I have two young daughters. It seems that as the girls get older, their father is less interested in having a role in their lives.
He no longer attends school functions or award ceremonies, nor does he return their telephone calls, which he used to do religiously.
He can call or visit the girls as often as he wishes, but he simply picks them up after breakfast Sunday and brings them back before dinner the same evening. The girls enjoy being with him, but they complain that he usually takes them to a fast-food place for lunch, to a movie and then right back home with little conversation. He pays his child support on a regular basis, but it seems to me that he is going through the motions during his visitations, as if they're an obligation or chore.
I have tried to talk to him about this, and he agrees with me, but nothing changes. Do you think I'm expecting too much by wanting him to be more involved and enthusiastic about what goes on in our daughters' lives? Or should I just be grateful that he at least visits them one day out of the week and pays his child support regularly? — Troubled in Hawaii
Dear Hawaii: Perhaps the girls could tell their dad they love being with him. Suggest it. If nothing comes of it, leave it be. He's "doing his duty." Too many fathers don't.
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