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Annie's Mailbox: Man questions wife's cold shoulder after 25 years

Dear Annie: I know I have my faults, but I can't figure out why my wife suddenly hates me. She has said so.

We have been married for 25 years and it's like a light switch flicked. At first, I didn't quite get it and didn't respond well (arguing and shouting at her). But when the cold shoulder turned icier and she began distancing herself, I figured the appropriate response was to load up on the patience and understanding. But the crazy thing is, the nicer I am, the angrier she gets. She has even said that she never loved me.

That can't be true. I remember that we would hug and kiss daily and hold hands all the time. We have shared many laughs and many travels, and sex was regularly fulfilling for us both. I thought we were happy.

The only thing I can think of is that our kids are now in college and I think my wife is struggling with being an empty nester. She was a stay-at-home mom and school volunteer, so this is a major adjustment. But my wife refuses to consider this possibility. She brings up arguments we had 10 years ago. I can't get her to recall the good times. She is fixated on how "horrible" I am and thinks marriages are supposed to be minute-by-minute bliss. She won't go to counseling together. She won't even go to church with me or out to dinner.

She has been working out a lot and has changed most of her eating habits, following whatever is the latest fad. I'm pretty certain there is no other person involved, and I'm definitely not cheating on her. Do you have any advice? -- I'd Like My Wife Back Please

Dear Like: There are a few possibilities here. Your wife could have met someone she wants to impress, someone who makes her feel young and desirable, while your marriage has gone a little stale. If so, kicking up the romance could help. Or now that the kids are out of the house, she could have realized that you have little in common. (She may have felt like this for years, but waited until the kids were gone.) Another likely culprit is menopause. Some women go through major emotional upheaval along with the hormonal changes. Tell your wife you love her and are worried about her health, and suggest she see her doctor. But you cannot force her to be more willing to work on this, so please get counseling for yourself and find the best way to cope with your current situation.

Dear Annie: Here is another gift for older parents: A phone call or a visit at regular intervals.

I regret that I didn't phone my parents more often, and when I visited, there didn't seem to be a lot to talk about. But I realized that just being there was meaningful. Sometimes I took my needlework, and always asked whether there was anything I could do to be helpful. That included some mending, picking up hearing aid batteries, driving their rarely used car, and buying three pairs of slippers for a parent who was unable to go to the store, and returning the pairs that didn't fit. These are good memories. -- Pat

Dear Pat: For most parents, there is no better gift than their children's time. Thank you for saying so.

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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