DEAR ABBY: My wife of 36 years has never introduced me to a restaurant, bought concert tickets or planned a vacation. She seldom suggests movies she wants to see or introduces me to any form of music. She claps her hands like a little girl when I say we are going out for ice cream, a walk or to a festival.
I have encouraged her repeatedly over the years to be a more active participant in our relationship and to be my partner. Nothing changes. If not for my encouragement, she would have never gotten her degree, gone to concerts or on vacations or experienced life. I plan everything. To her credit, she’s willing to go anywhere and do almost anything, but I’m increasingly resentful that my wife acts more like a daughter than a partner. I have been trying desperately for years to accept this, but I’m sick of it. — TIRED OF IT IN OHIO
DEAR TIRED: Your wife appears to be a follower rather than a leader. You should have raised this issue a long time ago and included her when you were planning outings. Because the status quo is no longer working for you, you must tell her exactly what you have put in your letter. And while you are at it, show her how to do the research so she can suggest things to do, and things may improve. But do not blame her entirely because some of it may rest with you.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are arguing about what college our son, “Wyatt,” should go to next year. I think it should be our son’s decision to choose the college with the degree program he wants. My husband disagrees. He wants our son to leave the nest, explore the world and become more independent. My husband says Wyatt is a “mama’s boy” and too reliant on me.
Wyatt wants to go to our local university, which offers the degree program he wants. He said: “I can go to the local school. You and Dad won’t have to pay room and board or out-of-state tuition, and I can keep my job and help pay for groceries or help with tuition.”
For some reason, that statement means nothing to my husband. He wants Wyatt out of the house. Should I let my husband duke it out with our son because I have already stated my opinion more than once, or keep arguing that Wyatt should pick the college? This whole thing is stressing our son out because he wants to please his father, and I’m tired of my husband coming down on me for how I raised our son. — CHALLENGED IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR CHALLENGED: I have to wonder if there is some other issue going on between your husband and your son that you didn’t mention. Wyatt appears to be thinking logically. He’s working and has offered to contribute to the household expenses. Many parents would be thrilled their son chose a school nearby. That your husband would label your son a “mama’s boy” and toss him out of the house is not helpful; it is hostile. Criticizing you for the way Wyatt has been raised is a cheap shot.
Before making up your mind, talk to Wyatt’s guidance counselor at school. If the person knows your son, it could prove helpful to hear his or her perspective.