Annie's Mailbox for Jan. 14, 2011: Needing excitement in my marriage

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Dear Annie: I have been married to my high school sweetheart for more than 20 years, and in that time, we have become homebodies. Every year since we tied the knot, the passion has gradually declined, and lately, it's about dead.

I am beginning to see life slip away without having done anything exciting. I happily gave up many interests for my wife, but I have recently regained my enjoyment of thrilling adventures, even if it means doing so alone. I'd like her to join me, and my enthusiasm has put pressure on our relationship because my wife refuses to explore all that life has to offer. I love her and believe she loves me, but I don't believe we are "in love" anymore. The sparks are gone, and we barely talk.

I am miserable and have been for decades, but the wonderful times I spend with our children keep me going. A man needs to feel a woman's affection. A good friend convinced me that infidelity was not the answer, but she also said that I am cheating myself and teaching my children that marriage doesn't include conversation, hugging or love. She also said I am being unfair to my wife by staying in an unfulfilling marriage.

I am tired of spending what little time we have together being pushed away and vegging in front of the TV. I believe it is time to man up and move on, but I am afraid to be alone and don't want to damage my kids or end up seeing them once a week. Should I continue to bottle up my feelings and keep my family together, or should we call it quits? I am not interested in therapy. I don't want to share my hurt feelings with a stranger.

— No More Frustrations, Please

Dear No More Frustration: You are sharing them with us, so we'll try to give you some advice. There is nothing stopping you from enjoying activities without your wife — many couples have separate interests. But you seem to think life is passing you by, so the need for excitement has taken on an urgency.

Leaving your wife without attempting counseling is self-serving. Bottling up your feelings does not allow her to respond to or understand the depth of your unhappiness. We cannot promise counseling will help her change her ways, but it will help you feel you have done all you can to save your marriage. We assume that is what you want to do.

Dear Annie: At a movie theater, is there a rule for which armrest belongs to you?

— Jim in Omaha

Dear Jim: No. The only rule is, you don't get to hog both armrests. And sometimes, unfortunately, it means you won't get either one, which is why you have a lap.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Taken Aback in Michigan," who was surprised that someone held a benefit to raise money for a funeral. I am not sure how many of your readers are aware of how difficult it is to get the price of a funeral much below $1,000, and that would be for cremation — no embalming, no casket and no delivery of the ashes. Someone must pick them up.

I would like to suggest people visit www.funerals.org. The site has links for local Funeral Consumers Alliance organizations. Ours does a survey every two years of local funeral homes and cemeteries so that those in need can make financially sound decisions. Rates for exactly the same services can vary by hundreds of dollars. Our volunteers will go with those purchasing services, provide our survey free of charge and offer a wide variety of free pamphlets, listed on our website.

An unexpected death can be a huge financial burden in many ways. The FCA can help provide information to make at least one need less expensive.

— Sandy Schlaudecker, Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Virginia Blue Ridge

Dear Sandy Schlaudecker: Thank you for the information. We hope our readers will keep it in their files.

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