DEAR ABBY: As the only income earner in our household of five, I work long hours. Sometimes I would enjoy talking about my day with my wife of 18 years. While she has no problem staying awake to watch TV or going out with her friends on the weekend, she usually falls asleep right in the middle of what I’m saying. It also happens in the car while I’m driving.
Contrast this to a recent trip she took with her friends where they talked and yucked it up for five hours straight. No matter how tired I am at the end of a long work week, I will do everything in my power to stay awake if there’s something she needs to talk about. I can’t figure out why she’s not doing the same for me.
When I tell her it hurts my feelings that she doesn’t think I’m important enough to make the effort to stay awake, or at least tell me she’s too tired to talk, I get criticized for not being sympathetic to how tired she is. At first I thought it was true. But now I think her behavior is self-centered. Am I crazy to think this way? – Unheard in Illinois
DEAR UNHEARD: You’re not crazy. You seem perfectly rational to me. What your wife is doing when you try to tell her that you are hurt is accuse you of doing exactly what she has been doing. To prevent your anger from building over this, discuss it with her when she’s wide awake – in a marriage counselor’s office, if necessary. Please do it before you encounter a lady who is sympathetic and willing to listen, because there are plenty of them out there.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have had two big dogs for several years. In general, they are well-behaved, but they have a lot of energy. I have two kids and limited free time, and my husband no longer walks them. I refuse to do it because the dogs are very strong. They have knocked me over on a couple of occasions. Because the dogs have no release, we have come home several times to find they have destroyed one thing or another in the house (chewed up walls, furniture, carpet).
I suggested dog training and/or a dog walker, but my husband refuses and promises to start walking them again (which usually lasts a couple of weeks, at most). He was raised to believe that dogs are part of the family, while I was not, so when I suggest that we “rehome” the dogs to someone who can devote more time to them, he won’t consider it, saying he could never do that to a family member.
I’m at my wit’s end. The situation is affecting our marriage in a number of ways. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. – Lots Of Energy in California
DEAR LOTS OF ENERGY: Gladly. Enlist your husband’s help once again in walking those “family members” and suggest he take the kids along. They might enjoy the “family” outing, and it would give you some time to yourself. Your reason for not doing it is valid. You should not risk physical injury.
When he stops walking the dogs again in a few weeks – as he will – hire the dog walker. If he objects, ask him which is more expensive, this or fixing the damage the dogs invariably cause when they haven’t had enough exercise to tire them out. I’m sure he will see your reasoning.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.