Dear Annie: Not too long ago, my life was perfect: great marriage, good kids, well established in our community and a fantastic sex life. Three years ago, at the age of 49, my husband retired after a 30-year career in law enforcement. He retired with no plans, hobbies, friends or passions. Now our life is hell.
Four months before his retirement, my husband became stressed, and his entire personality changed. He has periods of obnoxious highs, but most days are violent lows. He sleeps 12 hours a day, has gained more than 50 pounds and complains constantly of health issues (although numerous doctor visits show nothing). He slams doors, throws things, is verbally abusive and makes threats of physical violence.
Everything he says is negative, and he spends a great deal of time making his family feel horrible and unworthy. He is paranoid and controlling. I quit my job in my mid-20s to be an at-home mom. He threatens to cut me off financially and reminds me that it’s his car, his home, his money.
Prior to his retirement, we were happy, talked about everything and couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. Now, we never talk, and sex happens twice a year. Everyone in the family has suggested he get help, but he says it’s all our fault. People avoid us, we have no friends, and our kids steer clear. It breaks my heart.
I love my husband deeply, but cannot stand the monster he’s become. How do I get this man help when he clearly does not want it? It’s taking a terrible toll. — Want My Husband Back
Dear Want: Your husband may be bipolar, his retirement may have triggered severe depression, or his anxiety may have pushed him over the edge. But he needs professional assistance. His behavior sounds increasingly abusive, which could be dangerous to those around him. Since he seems willing to see a physician, please notify the doctor in advance of your husband’s behavioral issues. Also contact NAMI (nami.org) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (dbsalliance.org). And we strongly recommend the National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org).
Dear Annie: My best friend doesn’t have a car. I give her rides to work, to the supermarket and out to eat. She knows my schedule, and sometimes I have to lie to her because all this chauffeuring becomes too much for me. When I’m not able to give her a ride, she calls me a liar and won’t speak to me for days.
I’ve known her for 10 years. I love her and don’t want to lose her friendship. What can I do? — Male Best Friend in N.J.
Dear N.J.: This “friend” is taking advantage of you. If you’ve had enough, tell her, “I can’t afford to keep giving you rides unless you chip in for gas.” Or, if driving her is simply inconvenient, you can tell her that (but nicely). It might help if you both try to remember that you are doing her a favor, and not the other way around. Her anger is manipulative, and you should not respond to that sort of blackmail.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Mom of Nos. 2 through 4,” who wrote that her mother-in-law favors her oldest granddaughter.
My oldest sister, “Tara,” was everything to my grandmother. My younger sister and I were just “there.” It got worse as we got older, and we began resenting our grandmother. She could have had a very rich, loving life if she had treated us all alike. Instead, she never had the opportunity to know us and died a lonely woman. None of her grandchildren came to visit, and she often wondered why.
I guess what goes around really does come around. The mother-in-law will be the one who loses out. — Made It Through and Doing Fine
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.