Dear Annie: When I met my husband many years ago, he had just returned from Vietnam. His mind was shaky, and he was a chain smoker and a serious alcoholic. We have maintained a comfortable, peaceful relationship. I could not tolerate drunkenness, so he stopped. But what seemed left was an unaffectionate, unemotional robot. He has never hugged me, held my hand or actually kissed me (only quickly, during our silent, intimate moments). Compliments? Never. He never bought a ring for me, which not only is embarrassing but also makes me feel as though I have no value to him.
He is kind to the children, provides meagerly but adequately, and makes no waves. We simply exist. I settled for this and it would hurt too many nice people for me to go my own way. But my point in writing to you is to save other women: Think before getting involved with a cold, unfeeling person.
Counseling is out. We never have a conversation. I truly believe his lifelong chain-smoking has affected his mental and physical health. -- Too Little, Too Late
Dear Too Little: We wouldn't be so quick to blame the chain-smoking. While it has undoubtedly affected his health, it is more likely that his experience in Vietnam (and possibly his upbringing) had a greater impact on his emotional health. Many of those who have served in wars suffer from PTSD and never asked for or received treatment. Your husband could be one of them.
We're not going to give you a lecture on expecting an unaffectionate, robotic man to change once he marries. It's too late for that. And of course, if you could get your husband to visit a nearby VA to ask about PTSD counseling, that might be tremendously helpful. But you are the one who wrote. We think you deserve better. The fact that leaving him might cause "nice people" to be hurt is not a good enough reason for you to make such a lifelong sacrifice. Get counseling for yourself, and see what choices you have.
Dear Annie: I am a hunter, and I understand how important each of the very few days available for deer hunting is to a fellow hunter. "Left Out in the Cold" said her husband misses holidays and Mother's Day because they interfere with hunting season. She didn't say how far away her husband travels to hunt.
If he is not too far, he could perhaps hunt close to home in the morning and return for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner later in the evening after legal hunting hours. However, if he is unable to compromise and insists on missing holidays, then I suggest that she just go to the relatives without him and enjoy herself without giving him a second thought.
I have to say, the only time I could justify having Christmas postponed would be if an important family member were in the service or in the hospital. Sounds to me that "Left Out's" entire marriage might need some professional intervention. -- "Dear" Beats "Deer" Anytime
Dear Anytime: Compromise is always possible, but only if both parties are agreeable. When one person is not, the other has the choice of changing one's situation, accepting what cannot be fixed or being perpetually upset.
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.
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