Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I have been together for two years, and he moved in six months ago. “John” is 25 years older than I am. He has always been supportive and helpful, but now he is displaying passive-aggressive behavior.
John was forced into retirement last year, and I think he somehow blames me. I work full-time, take care of two teenage boys, cook dinner every night, do dishes and laundry, clean the bathrooms, buy the groceries and pay the bills. John sweeps and vacuums and does the yard work, which is a godsend because I have had shoulder issues that make these things difficult for me.
But lately, John has been pushing all of my buttons. He throws the towel over the shower door even though there is a nearby towel rack. I know it’s a small thing, but it’s a daily nuisance, and he knows it bugs me. He also does not squeegee the shower after he uses it, and I’m the one who cleans it. And he leaves the toilet seat up – but only when the toilet is dirty, which is his way of telling me it’s time to clean it. He leaves dishes in the sink instead of loading the dishwasher, even though I’ve asked him to at least leave them on the counter. When they are piled in the sink, I have no room to prepare dinner.
I know these are tiny things, but they add up, especially when I’m working all day while he is watching TV. When he’s upset with me, he gives me the silent treatment, and often it takes me days to figure out why. I know John is depressed because of his retirement, but he is well situated, doesn’t have to pay any bills and gets home-cooked meals every day. I love him dearly, but I am going nuts walking on eggshells. What am I doing wrong? — Massachusetts
Dear Massachusetts: Nothing. You did not live with John before his retirement and don’t really know whether he was always like this. His age may also be a factor in that he might be less energetic and capable than he was a year ago. And depression could cause him to push you away in these subtle ways, feeling he doesn’t deserve you.
Please talk to him. Tell him you love him, but that the current situation is making you worry your feelings aren’t reciprocated. Ask him to see his doctor about depression. Suggest he look into part-time jobs or activities that will keep him more active during the day. But if he makes no effort to address this, the situation is not likely to improve.
Dear Annie: I recently missed my 10-year high school reunion. I found out it was held in August, and I was never invited because I am not on Facebook. When did social media get so big that people can’t pick up a phone or write a letter? — Curious
Dear Curious: Social media sites began springing up as early as the mid-90s. Facebook was founded in 2004, and there are now more than a billion users. Like it or not, people are more apt to use such a site for mass invitations rather than pick up a phone and make dozens of individual calls. Our readers have let us know that when you haven’t heard about an upcoming reunion, you should contact others and find out whether you are out of the loop.
Dear Annie: I’d like to respond to “Too Good of a Cook,” whose grown children often visited for the weekend but never offered to help cook or contribute to the growing grocery bills.
My mother had many siblings who visited from out of state. Her rule was, “You are guests for one day. After that you are living here.” So everyone helped out with the dishes, cooking, cutting grass, doing wash and whatever. — J.F.
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 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.