Dear Annie: My wife and I have a wonderful 3-year-old son. We have a great home and make good money, but life stinks.
For the past year, my wife has insisted on allowing our son to sleep in our bed. And in case you’re about to ask, the answer is yes, we have not been able to do the one thing that married people normally do in bed.
When my wife puts our son in his own bed, she unbuttons her shirt and lets him nurse until he falls asleep. Without fail, he wakes up before midnight and walks into our room. If I tell him to go back to his room, he starts crying, and my wife then permits him to crawl into our bed.
I went to a therapist on my own. His advice was to tell my wife, “You can sleep in our son’s bed if you want it that way.” Guess what. She did.
He’s the clingiest kid I ever saw, and his mom seems to need him a lot more than he needs her. I feel like I’m competing for her attention. Any advice? — N.Y.
Dear N.Y.: Your wife is using her son as an excuse to avoid intimacy. This does a disservice not only to your marriage, but to your child. He is learning that if he cries, he will get whatever he wants, and that he is winning the competition for Mom’s affections. And yes, she has made it more of a competition than it needs to be. Please don’t blame your son for being “clingy,” and try not to focus on your sexual frustration. Instead, try to get your wife to understand that her behavior is unfair to the boy. Urge her to discuss this with her doctor, your child’s pediatrician or a counselor.
Dear Annie: I’ve been friends with “Sue” and “Mary” for years. Last year, I asked Sue to drive me to a cosmetic medical procedure in another state. She agreed and also wanted the procedure. She asked me to include Mary, which meant planning the trip around Mary’s work schedule.
We set tentative dates, and I made motel reservations and arranged clinic availability. Mary kept changing her mind about coming and finally admitted that she didn’t want the procedure. When she cancelled again, Sue moved up our departure time. Mary then reconsidered and wanted to come after all. I told her the departure time had been moved up, and she said she’d drive herself and meet us there.
Two days later, Mary sent me a letter saying she wasn’t coming and lambasted me because I “didn’t know what it was to be a friend.” I thought we’d talk it out, but that was a year ago, and we have yet to speak.
I don’t feel I owe Mary an apology. Sometimes I think she was looking for an excuse to squeeze me out of her friendship with Sue. It seems immature for a middle-aged woman to behave in such a fashion. Any suggestions? — Three’s a Crowd
Dear Crowd: You don’t owe her an apology, although it might help to say you are sorry that things became so complicated and difficult, and you regret that the friendship suffered as a result. And you could ask Sue to help. But frankly, after all this time, we have to assume Mary isn’t interested in renewing your bond.
Dear Annie: “Confused in N.C.” asked who should pay for birthday and anniversary dinners at a restaurant. Here’s my solution:
When inviting people to a restaurant, I make it clear that I will pay for appetizers, wine and dessert. Guests are welcome to come whenever, and some only come for dessert, which is fine. That way, those on a budget can participate, and I don’t break the bank. Often, guests will buy a bottle of wine for the table as a birthday present. — Can’t Always Entertain at Home
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.