Dear Annie: My husband has never had a close relationship with his mother. He spent most of his childhood years with his grandparents, who gave him a terrific life. His mom, though still fairly young, lives alone and has few friends.
I often remind my husband to call his mother to see how she’s doing, but he does this only occasionally. She lives barely an hour away, yet we go months without seeing her. Although she and I are polar opposites and have had some disagreements, we care deeply for each other.
I have grandparents nearby whom I help take care of and parents I’m very close to. Is it my responsibility to take care of my mother-in-law even though my husband doesn’t seem to care? Should I leave my husband alone about trying to maintain regular contact with her?
— Feeling Guilty
Dear Feeling Guilty: Please continue to stay in touch with your mother-in-law and check up on her now and then, and encourage your husband to do the same. He obviously does not feel a close bond, but he can certainly develop greater affection if he gives it some time and effort. Since he doesn’t know how to have a better relationship with her, we hope you will teach him. It could be very rewarding for all of you.
Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 20 years. We have had ups and downs just like any good marriage. Our oldest is leaving for the Army soon, and we have three other children.
For the past three years, our relationship has steadily deteriorated. Our sex life is almost nonexistent, and our social life is, too. My wife is angry and says hurtful things so often that I have become immune to her words. We have gone for counseling in the past, and to be honest, it made matters worse.
Her lack of affection has pushed me to the edge, and I am fed up with it all. I don’t want a divorce, but it seems to be the only alternative left. I dread coming home every night from work. What should I do?
— I Am Done in Ohio
Dear Ohio: Has your wife had a complete physical checkup? Aside from the obvious likelihood that some of this is the result of menopause, there could be other medical issues that are interfering with her emotional stability. Call the doctor in advance and alert him or her to the problem. Then get counseling on your own so you can develop some coping skills before you give up entirely.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.