Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for six years. He divorced his wife of 53 years because he fell in love with me and wanted the rest of his life to be happy. They had not shared a bedroom since the last of their kids was born.
”Ted” has always put his children before me. They dislike me because of “what I did to their mother.” Well, their father did it, not me. I pushed him away for more than a year before realizing how terrible his marriage was. (One of his kids told me.)
Ted repeatedly has lied to me about his children. He takes trips to visit them without me and doesn’t tell me he’s leaving until the day before he flies off. He makes all the arrangements behind my back. He once left me for a month and said he wanted a divorce because they told him he should get one.
Ted and I have talked about this, and he swears he will change, but he never does. Lately, his children have called me terrible names, and he never says a word in my defense. I have never done or said anything against these grown children.
I have never been a part of his family, and I guess I never will. At 78, you’d think he would appreciate having a loving wife and understand that his life is with me now.
I don’t expect him to stop seeing his kids, but he needs to put our marriage first. We tried marriage counseling twice, and each time he quit, saying the counselor was biased against him. Is there any hope? — Tired of Being Number Eight
Dear Tired: We don’t know what can be salvaged. If you backed off and told Ted he should see his kids on his own and you’ll stay out of their lives entirely, would he, in return, tell you of his plans and insist that his children treat you with respect? If the two of you can handle that, you may be able to stay together and enjoy the times that don’t involve the kids. But there are no guarantees. Sorry.
Dear Annie: I am a psychologist, and my husband is a psychiatrist. You give excellent advice, but there is one area where you could be more helpful.
When people seek low-cost mental health services, you often print a list of places where they might find help. Unfortunately, that list might not be useful in smaller, more rural areas. While we have several colleges, none have graduate departments that offer counseling. The YMCA and YWCA closed with the recession, and local churches offer pastoral counseling only to their own congregants.
The main low-cost mental health services offered in our community are through the county. This includes individual and family counseling, psychiatry and crisis intervention. We also have a 24-hour phone hotline to access emergency services. They can also direct people to an outpatient clinic at the local hospital. In addition, Mental Health America (formerly the Mental Health Association) offers referrals, classes and support groups. If people are seeking low-cost help, please recommend that they contact their local county government. — Karen J. Goodman, Ph.D., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Dear Dr. Goodman: Consider it done. We appreciate the information and will definitely add county services to the list.
Dear Annie: I think most families have at least one negative relative who puts a damper on holidays. My late mother-in-law hated the whole season and did her best to depress the rest of us. I’ll skip the details of what happened over the years.
She told me once that the reason she didn’t like Christmas was that she had never gotten what she wanted. I asked her what she wanted. She replied, “I don’t know.” — CT
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.