Annie's Mailbox: How can I get my wife to sign divorce papers

Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married 35 years. Before you applaud, let me explain that it has not been a good marriage.

I was crazy about my wife. She was smoking hot and even today, in her 50s, is still quite attractive. But she was raised to believe that sex was dirty and sinful.

We were intimate about once a year. After she became pregnant, we didn’t touch each other until she wanted to get pregnant again, three years later. I tried everything to get her interested, but was rejected over and over. The last time we had physical contact was 21 years ago.

Someone suggested she was never in love with me, and now I realize it is true. I stayed in the marriage for our kids and because I already felt like such a failure. I continued to be the best husband and father I could. Now I find myself in my mid-50s and more alone than ever.

I make a healthy six-figure income, but am miserable. I have had many opportunities to get something on the side, and I don’t want to be that guy.

But, Annie, I want someone in my life who can be a friend, a lover and a companion. Filing for a standard divorce will drag on forever, making only the attorneys rich, and we will become even more embittered. I promised my wife she could have everything and, with her agreement, filed for our state’s no-fault divorce.

The problem? My wife has had the paperwork for three years and refuses to sign it. I am so depressed, it’s hard to go on.

There is a woman for whom I have developed feelings, although we have not been intimate. I fear I may have already lost her. How can I get my wife to divorce me?

— Lonely and Spiritually Dead

Dear Lonely: Your marriage sounds sad. Your wife is hanging on to the papers because she is frightened to be on her own after so many years. If she is willing, counseling could help her. In the meantime, it may be necessary to “make the lawyers rich” in order to get out.

Tell your wife you believe she has the strength to move on without you, but if she won’t sign the papers within the month, you will file for a standard divorce and the money she might have gotten through a settlement will now pay for the attorney’s fees.

Then follow through.

Dear Annie: My boyfriend has two rather large sisters who apparently have difficulty cleaning themselves, as they have terrible odors about them.

When we invite them to our home, they leave their stench everywhere they sit. We then have to clean the chairs and sofa to rid these areas of the smell, and we can’t use the furniture for hours because it has to dry.

Is there any way to tell them of our dilemma or protect our furniture?

— Washington

Dear Washington: For some overweight people, excessive sweating causes an odor problem. It’s also possible those sisters have an underlying medical condition that is a contributing factor.

It would be a kindness if your boyfriend could work up the courage to tell his sisters about their body odor so they could do something about it.

If he won’t, however, the best you can do is cover your furniture with fabric or plastic, and give them a fancy bath kit as a gift and hope they get the hint.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Just Curious in the Midwest,” who received a mass text message as a thank-you note.

Here is how I make sure to send personalized thank-you notes. I do not allow myself to deposit checks, spend cash or use any gift until I have handwritten and mailed a thank-you note.

My husband and I did this for our wedding, and when we have children, they will write thank-you notes before they are allowed to play with their gifts. It will give them an incentive to do the right thing.

— C.

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