Annie's Mailbox for May 31, 2011: Husband is manipulating now that we're married

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Dear Annie: I've been married to "Sherwin" for two years. We are both in our 50s. He has two grown children, and I have two teenagers who still live with us.

Before we married, I thought Sherwin was perfect for me. We enjoyed everything together, and he made me feel special. Once we said "I do," however, I saw a different side. He spent most evenings on his computer or watching TV, no longer helped around the house and only wanted to pay one-fourth of the bills since my two children and I also live here.

I own my home. Sherwin threatened to leave me if I didn't put his name on the deed. I refused since our marriage had been so rocky. So a month ago, he left, taking our savings and all my jewelry with him. I have not let him back into the house. He has apologized over and over and returned the money and jewelry. I am not mad at him, Annie. I just don't trust him. He begs me not to give up and promises to do better.

I have seen a counselor, who reminds me that my job is to take care of my kids and myself and not be swayed because I feel sorry for Sherwin. In my heart, I believe I am better off without him. But every time I tell him it's over, he falls apart and apologizes. I hate to see him like this. Please advise.

— I Am Stuck

Dear Stuck: Sherwin is manipulative. He charmed you into marriage, then intimidated and bullied you to get his way, and finally stole from you and walked out. Now he is playing on your sympathy in order to get back into your life. We wouldn't trust him, either. In fact, we'd run as far away as possible. You can feel sorry for him from a distance.

Dear Annie: My husband has always been a heavy drinker. He mostly drinks alone, at home, and can go through two large bottles of vodka a week.

He's 65 and retired and stays active, playing golf and hockey every day, after which there may be lunch and drinks. He appears to be sober all the time, and his drinking does not impact on his responsibilities. He rarely seems drunk, although occasionally, I notice some slurred speech and drooping eyes.

For the past few years, he's made sure I don't see him coming into the house with his liquor purchases, and he sneaks the empties out to his truck. Recently, he's been drinking first thing in the morning. I believe he knows there's something wrong, but he's not ready to admit it. I take care to be tactful and nonconfrontational.

He takes medications for arthritis, blood pressure and stomach pain, and I'm worried. If I talk to his doctor, he would consider it a betrayal. Am I overreacting? Is he an alcoholic? I know about Al-Anon, but I'm not interested in being part of a group. Can you suggest any other resources?

— Worried Wife

Dear Wife: You can look into individual therapy for yourself, and there are many suggestions online for dealing with an alcoholic spouse. Although you aren't interested in being part of a group, we still recommend you check the Al-Anon website (al-anon.alateen.org) for literature and suggestions.

Dear Annie: "Ex-Professor Out East" said he was accepting of his wife's platonic relationship with another man. He should learn the term "polyamory."

My husband and I are happily married and found polyamory to be a welcome alternative. We both have loving relationships outside the marriage, with the other's blessing. This type of lifestyle can add new dimensions to an otherwise stale relationship.

— Happily Poly in Ohio

Dear Ohio: Polyamorous relationships can be platonic or sexual, but the important part is, they are not secret. The spouse knows and accepts. As long as both partners agree, we say to each his (or her) own.

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