Annie’s mailbox: Are you better with him or without?
Q. After 44 years of marriage, I can no longer trust my husband. “Steve” reconnected with a high school flame, and the end result was late-night emails, texts and calls. He even bought throwaway phones so they could stay in touch and meet out of town.
We went for counseling, and Steve took a stack of note cards to the first session with ultimatums for me. He accused me of being a lesbian and having affairs with women at work and in our neighborhood. He then shared the intimate details of our sessions with his old flame and invited her to come along! He wrote long multiple-page letters and slipped them to my therapist when he thought I wasn’t watching. Recently, Steve spent $12,000 of our money on a facelift, and he has set up at least 10 email accounts to hide things from me.
He finally promised to cut off communication with this woman unless it was about the upcoming high school reunion. We began to put things back together, and then he again initiated intimate contact with her and went to our high school reunion without me.
Is there any hope of trusting this man again? Or at age 64, am I looking at moving on? – The Faithful Wife
A. Steve seems to be going through a major midlife crisis. The old flame makes him feel as if he’s a teenager again. And the facelift was intended to make him look like one. Will he ever return to Earth? There are no guarantees. Please don’t plan your life around what Steve may or may not do in the future. Get some counseling on your own, see a lawyer about protecting yourself, and figure out whether you are better off with or without him right now.
Q. I live in a small community where many people volunteer for countless jobs, giving of their time and talents. I have a friend who is becoming increasingly critical of everyone’s efforts, and it is depressing to be in her company.
How do I tell her that we are tired of her constant complaining while still remaining her friend? I’m taking out my hearing aids at our next encounter. – Florida
A. Some people, as they age, turn into chronic complainers. Sometimes there are medical reasons, but often, it’s simply how they are. You could nicely mention to your friend that she seems terribly unhappy because nothing pleases her these days, and then suggest she see her doctor for a thorough checkup. We hope it helps.
Dear Annie: “Worried Grandma” was concerned about her granddaughter, “Kelly,” who had difficulty modulating her voice and felt that men were turned off by her loud personality.
Please tell her to look into whether Kelly has Asperger syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. Asperger’s often goes undiagnosed until later in life, but its primary symptom is extreme social awkwardness and an inability to appropriately “read” the social cues of others.
With training, Kelly can learn how to modify her behavior and pick up on these social cues. But it’s unlikely she can do it on her own. A correct diagnosis can go a long way toward repairing her self-esteem. I hope her parents will get Kelly the help she needs. – Vermont Professor
Dear Vermont: It is possible that Kelly has a mild form of Asperger’s, although she should see a medical professional to find out whether this is the case. If it is, she can contact aspergersyndrome.org for more information.
Email questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.