Dear Annie: I'm at my wits' end with my wife of 30 years. I think she's delusional. I am five years older than she is, but she insists that she looks older. She claims she is fat and ugly, so she no longer wants to go out with friends, go to a movie or out dancing or attend family functions.
She is the only one who sees herself this way. I think she looks fine. Nonetheless, she will do nothing to change her appearance. She won't exercise or eat healthier foods. She drinks alcohol excessively, smokes too much and rejects the idea of cosmetic surgery. Instead, she wants to stay behind closed doors.
The real problem is that she also expects me not to attend any family functions, go out with friends, etc. I have stayed in good shape and have taken some measures to slow the aging process. I've had hair replacement and done dental work. I exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet. So now she wants me to go bald, give up exercise and snack on junk food between meals. She said then I would know how she feels.
I have never been critical of her and still love her very much, but I think she could help herself if she wanted to. Should I let myself go to please her and make her feel better about herself? I think not, but what say you? -- Confused by Wife
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Dear Confused: This shouldn't be about looking younger, which only goes so far. It's about a healthier life. You already know that we aren't going to tell you to sabotage your efforts simply because your wife is insecure. She is well-aware that exercising, along with curtailing her drinking and giving up smoking, could make her appear younger, but she is unwilling to do that.
The most you can do is reassure her that you love her and that she is beautiful in your eyes. Then ignore her complaints as best you can. Improving her health is a do-it-yourself project. If she is ever ready to tackle it, please be as supportive as you can. Meanwhile, you do not have to curtail family functions and other activities with friends because your wife refuses to go. Go on your own.
Dear Annie: My dad retired from his job in his early 60s. Mom (now 90) was a stay-at-home wife and mother. She did all the cooking, cleaning, grass cutting, painting, sewing, mending, shopping, paying bills, chauffeuring, school conferences and just about anything else that needed to be done for the household.
For three days after retiring, my dad (now 88) just laid around watching television and asking my mom to "get me this and that," not lifting a finger. Three days was enough for her. She promptly sat down next to him in her recliner and announced, "Sweetheart, starting today I am retired, too!"
They never looked back. They share in everything and are still married after nearly 69 years. My mama made her point: If Mama isn't happy, no one is happy. -- B.
Dear B.: Your mama certainly didn't beat around the bush. Kudos to her.
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