Dear Annie: I am 58 and have been married to “Hank” for 24 years. I have two children from a previous marriage, and Hank and I have a 21-year-old son together.
I’ve tried everything to be a good wife, but Hank never has been affectionate, and our sex life is nonexistent. Several years ago, I learned that he has cheated on me for most of our marriage. My older son caught him the first time, and I made Hank move out. We went to counseling, and I let him come back home, although I believe the only reason he returned was because of our son.
Recently, I received calls telling me Hank was cheating again, but he denied it. I finally hired a private investigator, who confirmed that Hank was having an affair. I told him to leave her alone and thought that would end it, but it didn’t. I discovered he has been seeing this woman for at least 12 years. I love my husband, but won’t tolerate sharing him anymore.
I knew when we married that we weren’t soul mates, but I felt we could have a good marriage. Hank knows if he leaves, his son will despise him and he won’t be able to see the grandchildren. Should I talk to the Other Woman and ask her to stop seeing him? What do I do? — Desperate in Indiana
Dear Indiana: Contacting the Other Woman will not produce the result you want: for Hank to stop cheating. He is unhappy in his marriage and thinks this gives him license to ignore his wedding vows. It does not. But you are also unhappy, twisting yourself into knots, trying to make Hank a faithful, loving husband. It isn’t working. Get some counseling. Find out what it’s worth to you to keep your marriage intact and what your next step should be.
Dear Annie: My daughter and son-in-law had a little celebration for my grandson’s first birthday. The baby gets fussy in big crowds, and their house is small, so they decided to invite only the grandparents.
Several days after the party, I received an angry email from a niece stating, “How nice it would have been to actually have been invited to the party.” She copied all of my relatives. I responded, explaining why the guest list was so small, and chastised her for complaining in front of the entire family. Then her mother (my husband’s sister) sent an email chewing me out, saying she and her husband were hurt because they weren’t invited, either, and accused me of “attacking” my niece. My brother-in-law sent my daughter a text message saying the same thing.
I apologized to my niece for chastising her, but I was thoroughly annoyed. I don’t think my daughter and son-in-law did anything wrong by keeping the party small. I feel these relatives were very rude. How could we have handled this situation better? — Fed Up in Cornwall, Pa.
Dear Fed Up: Your daughter did nothing wrong. Your niece and her parents are thin-skinned and hypersensitive. You could have replied, “We’re so sorry you felt slighted. It was not intentional. Only grandparents were invited.” Then ignore them.
Dear Annie: “Bob” was unhappy that his stepchildren don’t call him “Dad.” You failed to give Bob your usual good advice: to get a complete medical checkup.
Bob said he is withdrawing from family members who love him and waking up at 3:30 a.m. feeling despondent. I happen to know that an underactive thyroid can cause those symptoms, and few doctors check that in men. — R.
Dear R.: Thank you so much for mentioning this possibility. Other readers pointed out that Bob’s obsessive focus on his title could indicate depression. We love how our readers look out for one another. We hope Bob will schedule a complete checkup soon and ask his physician to check for these things.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.