Annie's Mailbox: Wife blames me for all our difficulties

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Dear Annie: My 33-year-old wife and I have been married for four years and have a wonderful 3-year-old son. Yet, from Day 1, every time a difficulty arises, she proclaims she is getting a divorce. In fact, she usually holds me accountable for every difficulty.

She refuses intimacy or even close proximity unless it includes a foot and back rub. Her twice-daily conversations with her mother are sacred (we live across the country from our families). Her mother is her only real friend and gives her advice, none of which is supportive of our marriage.

My wife is constantly irritable and worries endlessly about money, though the two of us earn plenty. Her job sucks the life out of her, and she comes home drained and anxious. I suggested she work part time, as my income is enough, but she won't. She refuses any sort of counseling and throughout the years has filed three legal proceedings against me, including a charge of child abuse, all of which were utterly false and ended as soon as she got tired of pursuing them. But they cost us thousands of dollars in legal fees.

I love my wife and consider marriage to be sacrosanct. I tell her daily that I will do whatever it takes to make her and our child happy. Instead, she has moved out of the house. Any advice on how to improve the marriage instead of terminating it?

- Locked Out of My Marriage

Dear Locked Out: Either you're not telling us the whole story, or your wife has some serious mental health issues. Saving the marriage may not be possible or beneficial. Since she refuses counseling, please go on your own and see if you can find more effective ways to cope.

Dear Annie: I am a 21-year-old college student and recently started an internship at a nearby school. I have always been a reserved person. I can engage in pleasant conversation, but typically prefer to be quiet in social settings.

Recently, my department had a large project to complete, and I was given an important job to do. I sat at my desk and carefully did my work, and the others happily talked while doing their assigned jobs. After a few hours, one woman looked at me and remarked unpleasantly, "Look at her. She doesn't say a word. She doesn't complain or anything."

I was not unfriendly and was perfectly content doing my work. Tell me, Annie, is it OK to be in a social situation and not complain? This isn't the first time someone has told me to speak up.

- Comfortably Quiet

Dear Comfortably: There is a difference between doing your work quietly and giving the impression that you are aloof and superior to your co-workers. Also, you are interpreting that remark as "unpleasant," and we think it was gentle teasing intended to draw you into conversation. You don't have to be a chatterbox. If talking isn't your thing, try a genuine smile. It can work wonders.

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