Annie’s Mailbox for May 16, 2011: Eight-year marriage suffering from husband’s paranoia
May 16, 2011
Dear Annie: My husband and I can no longer communicate effectively with each other, and our eight-year marriage is suffering as a result. It’s like we are living in two separate worlds. In his, no one is trustworthy, including me. We are all out to get him. He sees signs of intentional disrespect from others where there are none, and when some minor issue doesn’t go his way, he has a temper tantrum like a 2-year-old. He is verbally abusive. He’s also convinced that the economy will collapse soon, so he’s started stockpiling food.
We spent a year in weekly couples counseling with absolutely no positive progress. I have been unable to get him to go to counseling on his own. I cannot live like this anymore and am thinking about a separation. We each have grown children from previous marriages, and they are on their own. Help.
Dear Illinois: Your husband seems a little paranoid. Has he always been like this? If it is a relatively new phenomenon, or if he is getting worse, please ask him to see his doctor for a complete checkup. Sometimes these problems are neurological in origin and can be treated. They also can be signs of incipient dementia or a reaction to medication. If that is not the case, however, and your husband is unwilling to work on the marriage, you may need to separate for your own mental health.
Dear Annie: I was recently invited to attend a friend’s confirmation. Since I do not drive, my friend’s family offered to pick me up and take me home from the church. However, when the confirmation was over, the family drove to a nearby restaurant for brunch.
No one had mentioned to me that there would be a brunch afterward. I had only enough money for a cup of coffee and was very embarrassed. People kept asking me why I wasn’t eating, but I felt it would have been rude to say that I was caught by surprise and couldn’t pay for a meal. I’m sure someone would have offered to pay for me, but that would have been even more awkward.
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I went home hungry, and the others went home perplexed. I think my friend should have told me about their plans instead of assuming I would know. Now, I never go anywhere without plenty of cash. I think people who issue invitations should make it clear what activities are included and who is expected to pay for what. In this particular situation, did I do the right thing?
— Puzzled about Propriety
Dear Puzzled: Yes, although it also would have been OK to simply say that you left your wallet at home and would repay anyone who covered the cost. When someone else is providing transportation, it is helpful to know where you are going. If a meal is included, those expected to attend should be informed. However, most people assume others either have cash or a credit card with them at all times. As you have painfully learned.
Dear Annie: You told “Talks Too Much” that her chatterbox friend might have hearing loss. Another possibility is Asperger’s syndrome. Those with Asperger’s have a very hard time with the give and take of conversation and often cannot read social cues.
— Proud Aspie Mom
Dear Mom: Thanks for another explanation. Here are two more:
From Out East: How about too much caffeine? My ex-roommate was great in the morning, but not after the coffee binge. Once, I was on the phone and she wouldn’t stop talking to me, completely undeterred by the conversation I was having with someone else. I had to go into the bathroom and shut the door in her face.
Boston: I have two friends in the chatterbox category. Neither suffers from hearing loss. They are self-absorbed and crave attention. Although I do care for these people, I shamefully avoid them at times.