DEAR ANNIE: My wife and I have been together for 10 years and married for two. I still work full time, but my wife took early retirement last spring and now she spends weeks at a time visiting different members of her family.
When she is gone, she rarely answers her phone. I've noticed that when she's away, I sleep and eat more, rarely socialize and don't get things done that I should. I believe I'm depressed without her. Sometimes I pretend that I have no partner and don't care that she's away. I get through those weeks much better that way.
Is it right for couples to be apart so much? I really want this marriage to work, but it seems rather one-sided. -- Lonely and Depressed in the Midwest
DEAR LONELY: Most couples check in once a day or at least every other day when they are apart. The fact that your wife doesn't want to do this for weeks at a time worries us. We know some readers will question whether she is even visiting relatives or doing something altogether different, but we think your wife considers time away from you to be her vacation, and she is reluctant to be reminded otherwise.
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When she next returns home, you can ask her about this. But we also recommend that you stay active while she's away. Find something to do that will keep your mind busy so you are less depressed and lonely. Take up a hobby. Work on a project around the house. Go to the gym -- exercise is good for raising endorphins and making you feel better.
DEAR ANNIE: I have three adult granddaughters, and I have been sending them $50 for each of their birthdays and at Christmas. They never thank me, but I know they have cashed the checks. I also send gifts for my great-grandchildren with no acknowledgement.
I am struggling with whether to continue this tradition. I never get a Christmas card or birthday card from them. Also, I had breast cancer and a double mastectomy a few years ago and they never ask how I'm doing.
I feel bad if I don't send them a gift, but don't you think this relationship should work both ways? -- Disappointed in Them
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Many grandchildren think gifts and cards only flow one way. You have to tell them. But all gifts should be acknowledged in some form, and if your grandchildren don't do this, it's time to stop. When they ask why they didn't get a Christmas gift from Nana this year, simply say you never hear back from them, so you assume they don't particularly like your presents. That should take care of it.
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.