Annie’s Mailbox for April 12, 2011: Allowing wife to have friendship with another man
Dear Annie: I am an intelligent 70-something with a good education and am a responsible father and grandfather. I am also the husband (more than 40 years) of an amazing, accomplished woman.
For the past 20 years, my wife has had a platonic friendship with a man who has far more in common with her than I do. I admit I’ve been jealous, but I also see how happy and radiant she is after a visit with him. She claims he is like a brother to her, and I think that is probably true. But I know she loves him.
I’ve tried to change myself into someone more compatible with her. I’d been negligent for years in my personal hygiene and began taking more showers. And after a lifetime of overeating, dieting is difficult. I’m sure my body turns her off. I also have tried to enjoy the kinds of things she appreciates, but we are just too different in our tastes.
My wife is sweet, kind and affectionate. She cooks great meals, keeps our home running smoothly and ministers to me gently when I am sick. She even does most of the repairs around the house. We do enjoy some things together, like movies and traveling. If I initiate sex, she is a willing partner. We share laughs and commiserate over our problems.
If I forbid her to see this man, I know it will turn her away from me. So I have decided to let her spend time with him, especially when I am busy with things that don’t interest her. My life is good, my wife is happy, and I am truly content. The man she loves is intelligent and interesting, which makes it easier to take. I know she will never leave me. I’m determined to be happy for her. Are there other men who have had the strength to make a similar decision?
— Ex-Professor Out East
Dear Professor: Possibly, although not too many would be so generous. These types of decisions are personal and individual. If the arrangement is OK with you and makes your wife happy, it is no one else’s business.
Dear Annie: I’m in middle school and have a friend who is very dear to me. But she lives under awful conditions. Her house constantly stinks, there are dog feces on the floor, and her father yells every five minutes. Not to mention, her siblings are rude and mean.
I can’t stand staying in her house. It’s really disgusting. Still, I cherish my friend and want to hang out with her. How do I steer her toward my house without insulting her?
— Tired of Filth
Dear Tired: If the conditions of your friend’s home are as bad as you say, you should discuss it with your parents and ask if they would check it out. There may be health issues that need to be addressed. In the meantime, invite your friend to your home often. If she tries to reciprocate, it is perfectly OK to tell her that you are more comfortable studying, watching TV or eating snacks in your own environment.
Dear Annie: You printed a letter from “Would Like an Answer,” whose husband has violent outbursts of temper every so often. You suggested several possibilities, one of which was that he was having a reaction to his medications.
The exact same crazy behavior happened to my usually sweet-tempered husband. It started after he was put on a beta-blocker for his blood pressure. He would fly into a brief rage for no reason. It took two changes of medication to find one that controlled his blood pressure without the unprovoked anger.
Please pass this information on, because many times doctors don’t consider that medication could possibly be the culprit behind emotional problems. This type of behavior can break up the best of marriages.
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