Marriage hanging in the balance
Dear Annie: I have been married for more than 30 years, and we have one teenage daughter who will be attending college in the fall. My husband and I have lived like roommates for the last 10 years. We co-exist, raising our daughter as civilly as we can.
I have gone to counseling off and on for years, trying to improve our relationship. He has gone a handful of times but is now refusing to go as he thinks there is nothing wrong with our relationship.
We have no affection or intimacy toward one another whatsoever. He has been retired for three years and has several joint issues he is dealing with, which limits our activities together. He is very negative and picks at things constantly. I work out of the home and do all the household chores, cook, clean and take care of my daughter’s needs. He only does yard maintenance, refusing to help me otherwise.
Needless to say, I am frustrated, angry and lonely and not sure, after my daughter leaves, if this marriage will survive. — Barely Hanging In There
Dear Barely Hanging In There: You say that he is negative and picks at things constantly. However, I have to give it to you straight: Your letter is pretty negative and is picking at everything he does wrong. It sounds like both of you are playing a part in your frustration, anger and loneliness.
Keep talking to a professional marriage therapist. If he refuses to go with you, then go for yourself. Being willing to own your part in your unhappiness will be more freeing than you think. And use that freedom and clarity to decide how you want your marriage and life to look, with or without him.
Dear Annie: Recently, my older sister called me to say that she needed a place to stay. We have had little to no contact before this. She said the home she had been renting was being sold.
I have opened my home to many who were not family in the past and struggle with saying no. However, I don’t think she has a plan for obtaining her own place. She is not viewing this as a temporary situation.
I am charging her rent, but I value my space and privacy more than the extra income. I am single. My children are adults and living in their own homes. How do I tell my sister that this is a temporary situation and she needs a plan to get her own place? — A Place of One’s Own
Dear Place: The best way to address this matter with your sister is to be honest from the beginning. The fact that you are aware that it’s been difficult for you to say no in the past is a good start. Set clear expectations for everything. Remind yourself — and tell your sister — how much you value your space and privacy at this stage of your life. Once those expectations on timing, finances and space are set and agreed on by both of you, then you could help her find a place of her own.