Q. I have been married to “Dennis” for eight years. Early on, Dennis couldn’t do enough for me. Now, if my car won’t start, he yells at me and says to call a tow truck. If I ask him to spend time with me, he always has other things to do. On the rare occasion when we attend a social event together, he abandons me so he can “work the room” and have a great time with everyone else. We arrive together and leave together, and the rest of the time, I sit alone, miserable and forgotten.
Dennis will go above and beyond for others. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night, raining, snowing, spending money we don’t have, missing meals, birthdays, holidays and our daughter’s school programs. If it’s a chance to make himself look good, he’s there with a smile and compassion. I get the repairman to take care of me with a handshake and a bill. But when I ask Dennis to treat his family with the same enthusiasm, he calls me a selfish nag.
Yes, I resent all the people he helps, because they get the side of my husband that belongs to me. I’m told to take care of myself because he’s too busy helping others and inflating his ego. I get whatever is leftover. I love Dennis, but I’m starting to feel that he only gave me his adoration and helpfulness because he was trying to win my heart. How do I deal with this? – Wife of the Plumber with Leaky Pipes at Home
A. Some people put on a good show for others, but at home, they let down the facade. We recommend counseling, preferably with Dennis, but without him if necessary. We also suggest you stop relying on your husband to provide your social life. Instead of sitting “miserable and forgotten,” develop your conversational skills. Get involved in some local activities that interest you so you are less dependent on Dennis’s availability. You need to take better care of yourself.
Dear Annie: I am a retired schoolteacher and would like to request that you stop recommending that high school students see their guidance counselors for any problems other than recommended course requirements for graduation.
While it may be widely thought that they are there for guidance on many personal issues, most of them, in my experience, are the last person I would recommend a student speak to about family or emotional issues. This may sound harsh, but they are not compassionate and caring individuals. Perhaps they are in elementary and middle schools, but not in high schools. Their time is taken up with increasing state requirements for graduation and dealing with failing students who need course recovery classes. Their general attitude is that they have no time for anything else. – Retired Teacher
Dear Teacher: We know that high school guidance counselors are primarily there to help students navigate their future academic lives. But we are certain most would take issue with your comment that they are not compassionate and caring. Perhaps that was the case in your school, but there are many students whose lives have been changed by kind and concerned guidance counselors who understand that a student’s personal life can interfere with his or her academic success.
Dear Annie: Please tell “Still Healing” that it is imperative she inform her stepbrother’s wife about the painful sexual abuse she suffered at his hands.
My granddaughters have been through hell because their father sexually abused them. It might have been averted if his half-sister had reported the earlier sexual abuse and rape. When she learned what he had done to his daughters, she finally came forward, but it was too late. Thankfully, he is in prison now, and the girls are getting counseling, but they will suffer for many years. – Sad Grandmother
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