Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Too Little, Too Late," whose Vietnam vet husband is robotic and unaffectionate. This sounds like my husband.
There was never an acknowledgement for the things I did, nor did I get a kiss, compliment or sign of affection. He believed because we had a home and enough money to live comfortably, it made him a good husband and father. He made me think everything was my fault -- if I were prettier, smarter or kinder, then things would change. After 30 years of marriage, I was ready to divorce him. Instead, he was diagnosed with a disease that has robbed him of his ability to take care of himself. I recently had to place him in a care center. I'm there every day for hours because he wants me there all the time.
I'm in my mid-60s. The sorrow I feel at never having been loved is indescribable. The despair makes me physically ill. My advice is to run, not walk, to the nearest divorce attorney. -- Also Too Little Too Late
Dear Also: How sad for both of you. The lack of affection in a marriage takes a severe toll on husbands, wives and the children who witness it. Read on for more:
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From Pennsylvania: I, too, am a Vietnam vet. Many of us came home with PTSD, including me. But that's not the only thing we faced. We were spat on, ridiculed, called baby killers and shunned. Many of us are still bitter about it. Luckily, I was able to find a wonderful woman who helped get me through it.
Indiana: My husband was one of those people who went off to fight this war and returned home a completely different person. He had night terrors and would wet the bed. He would hit me and choke me in his sleep. He developed addictions that I could not live with. He refused to accept the fact that he had been damaged and wouldn't seek treatment. For my own safety and peace of mind, I divorced him.
Dear Annie: I, too, was married to a man who never told me he loved me and showed no affection. He was also an alcoholic and a narcissist, although I didn't know that when we married. For 19 years, I tried to make it work, including 12 years in couples therapy. I divorced him eight years ago and married a man who truly loves me. Tell this letter writer not to throw her life away.
Dear Annie: I am a 'Nam vet and was addicted to just about everything. My wife listed the things she could not tolerate, so I quit them. When I suggested counseling, she said she wasn't the one with the problem. The next coping mechanism I learned was to apologize and disassociate, which has resulted in a "comfortable, peaceful relationship" for the past 56 years, but it's not the relationship I wanted.
Dear Readers: We are carrying on Ann Landers' tradition that April 2 be set aside as Reconciliation Day, a time to make the first move toward mending broken relationships. It is also the day we agree to accept the olive branch extended by a former friend or estranged family member and do our best to start over. Here's a meaningful quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe: "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."
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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