Dear Annie: I have been married to "Ryan" for three years, and we dated for two years before that. It's a second marriage for both of us. My first marriage was miserable and lonely, and I wanted to make sure to do it right the next time. When I met Ryan, he was supportive and accepting of my two sons. He made the effort to spend time with them. He was attentive to me. I thought he was perfect.
The problems started not long after we moved in together. He became distant and moody and spent most of his day in front of the TV. Now, after five years, Ryan has completely alienated my boys, his co-workers and everyone else. No matter what I ask of him, he blows it off as if I'm crazy. He doesn't seem to care that he's pushing us away. Ryan's doctor put him on an antidepressant to help him sleep, but he refuses to take it. He doesn't believe he has a problem.
I miss my husband, Annie. His behavior has done such a complete 180 that I don't want to be with him anymore. I am tired of making excuses for him. He won't go to counseling. I'd go alone, but I don't have the money. Should I cut my losses and walk away?
— Frustrated in Flint, Mich.
Dear Flint: Some suitors put on a good show during courtship, and once the relationship is set, they revert to form. If that's the case, things are unlikely to change, and you might be better off leaving. However, a "complete 180" could also indicate that Ryan is depressed, overwhelmed by his sudden family obligations or has an underlying medical problem. Suggest he get a complete physical. You also can find low-cost counseling for yourself through your church or United Way.
Dear Annie: I think my mother is verbally abusive. I just finished my last year of middle school. I am now in summer school in order to prepare for a grueling high-school course load, and am also involved in many other activities. The last thing I want is to come home to a mother who will nag, nag, nag and then yell, yell, yell.
My mother takes her anger out on other people. If I try to discuss this with her, she talks right over me. She constantly compares me to my older siblings, saying they were better behaved and that she wishes I were more like them. She has become more and more hurtful, calling me horrible names like "retard." If I cry, she says I'm a "crybaby." When I ask why she does this, she changes the subject.
I feel taunted and bullied by my own mother. How do I fix this?
— The Crybaby Daughter
Dear Daughter: Can you talk to another relative
— your father, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or even one of your siblings -- and ask them to intercede on your behalf? Your mother may not recognize how negatively her behavior affects you, and it might help for someone else to point it out. And when school starts in the fall, please talk to the school counselor or a favorite teacher who can help on an ongoing basis.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Crazy," whose mentally ill brother is making life difficult for their father. Get him out now!
My parents allowed my older, paranoid schizophrenic brother to live with them. Their lives were spent tiptoeing around him. When they passed away, my brother was 60 years old and had never held a proper job. It took us two lawyers, a social worker, a crisis team and more than a year to get him out of the house so we could sell it. All along, he treated us with contempt and disdain. He was capable of behaving himself, however, so we couldn't have him committed. He ended up homeless, even though we offered to pay his rent elsewhere until he got his share of the proceeds from the sale of the house.
We never realized how paranoid and dangerous he was until we read his years of daily journal entries. It is a sad situation, but it is also a relief that we no longer have to deal with him.
— Still Looking Over My Shoulder
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