Dear Annie: Please help me before I pull my hair out. I am 40 and have been married for the last eight years to a man I love more than I thought possible. We have a good relationship. We are open and talk often.
My dilemma is that he complains all the time about aches and pains. Not a day goes by that there isn't some ailment bothering him. I have tried to think back to earlier in our relationship, and I don't recall whether he's always done this and I had blinders on, or if his complaints have become more frequent.
Granted, he has had his share of minor health problems, but so have I and many other people. I don't want to overlook anything serious, nor do I think he is a hypochondriac, but I have found myself becoming more and more callus and dismissive of his complaints and have even caught myself rolling my eyes. This is not in my nature and I don't like responding this way.
How should I handle this situation? If I tell him how I feel about it, I know it will hurt his feelings. On the other hand, if I do nothing, I am eventually going to snap and bark at him. Any suggestions? -- Married to a Kvetch
Dear Married: The first thing you need to do is make sure his constant aches and pains are not, in fact, masking something worse. So the next time he grumbles, insist that he make an appointment with his doctor and go with him. If he says it's "nothing to worry about," tell him, "No. You've been complaining about this for a long time, and I want to be sure there is nothing seriously wrong."
If the doctor's examination shows nothing beyond normal wear-and-tear, encourage your husband to get a massage, see a chiropractor or acupuncturist, or change his workout, which could be aggravating something. (If he's not working out, suggest that he start, as it could help build up his strength.) If you do this with sincerity and concern every time he complains, he will become more aware of it and less likely to continue.
Dear Annie: I need to address your response to "Wary Wife," whose husband used to go to strip clubs and she doesn't trust that he's not looking to meet strippers.
This woman works two jobs and they have three children. Telling her to be more attentive to her husband is shocking. Why isn't her husband there for her and for their kids? Why has he money to go out while his wife has to work?
I think there are serious questions that need to be answered here. Please reconsider your response. -- A.
Dear A.: We appreciate that the wife is working hard, but she says in her letter, "I will admit that I haven't been the most attentive wife," so we think she needs to work on that, too. It cannot all be about the husband's peccadilloes, even though he certainly is undermining his wife's trust and needs to stop. But you cannot neglect your spouse, regardless of the reason, and expect things to be just fine. It doesn't matter which one of them is more to blame. The point is to repair the damage and make the marriage stronger, and that will take effort from both of them.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.