Dear Annie: After more than 30 years, my husband has turned into one disgusting human being. He retired on disability some time ago, and has slowly gone from a very intelligent man to a human cesspool.
He burps loudly and thinks his flatulence is amusing, and he believes that I should just put up with both. After years of trying to be a supportive spouse, this is the thanks I get. It's not funny to me any longer, but I don't have the nerve to tell him that I've lost all respect for him. I cannot bring friends to the house because of his boorish behavior, which I suspect is just what he wants.
I used to admire my husband. Now I wouldn't care if something happened to him, if you know what I mean. If I had one wish, it would be not to have him in my life any longer. Do you have any suggestions? -- Frat Boy's Wife
Dear Wife: We have a few. If you don't communicate clearly with your husband, he will not know how you feel. Tell him you have lost all respect for him. Insist he see his doctor to find out why he cannot control his bodily functions, since this change in his previous behavior could indicate a small stroke or dementia. (That might get his attention.) Tell him you are ready to walk out the door, because that is an easy way not to have him in your life. And if you truly mean it, you ought to do it. Otherwise, absent yourself as much as possible. Go out to dinner with friends and leave him at home. Find a hobby that gets you out of the house. Take long vacations to see the relatives. Book a trip with a tour group. Many couples find a modicum of contentment living independent lives when too much closeness becomes suffocating.
Dear Annie: I'm writing about "Crying Mother," who wondered why her once loving daughter-in-law now seems cold and distant. I could be that daughter-in-law. It's possible that it's not a personal issue at all. It may be a life-stage issue.
When my children were young, I regularly saw my mother, as she provided care for them when I was at work part time. We regularly had dinners with my in-laws and visits with my parents as the kids enjoyed it and I had plenty of time.
In the past few years, I've gone back to work full time. My children are older and are involved with music, sports, church, scouts and other activities. I see my family twice a month and on holidays. I see my in-laws roughly the same amount. This is not distance or estrangement. It's time management. There are only so many hours to go around. We still make time for family, but it is definitely different than when the kids were little and had no activities.
My parents, in-laws and I communicate well most of the time, but with less communication, there may be less understanding. -- Juggling It All
Dear Juggling: You have made some excellent points. Grandparents often don't understand (and can resent) the time kids spend in various activities and with their friends. Kids tend to become increasingly busy the older they get, and although they love their grandparents, they prefer to be with their classmates. Divorced parents often have similar issues. Open communication is important so that there are fewer negative assumptions.
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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