Dear Abby: I have been married for 30 years. I still work full time, and my husband is now retired. We have had issues during most of our marriage, mainly concerning his not getting enough sex. A couple of times a week isn’t sufficient.
In the past, he looked at porn a lot. He likes to take pictures of me that he stores on his phone, wants me to wear seductive clothing when we go out and demands that I send him naked pictures of myself from work. It makes me very uncomfortable, but he gets angry when I don’t play his game.
He tells me often that I am no fun. When he gets angry, he says I am not sexy enough, too fat, not smart enough, etc. Yes, we have gone to marriage counseling in the past, and I have gone to counseling alone.
I’ve tried to learn to cope with living with him because I really don’t want to divorce and destroy our family unit. We have three grown children, and in the past, he bullied our only son for not being the best sports player he could be, even though he excelled.
I would like to retire soon, but now I wonder if he expects me to be his entertainment once I do. He has no hobbies. Do you have any advice? – Plaything in Texas
Dear Plaything: I am amazed you were willing to tolerate your husband’s criticism and abuse for the length of time you have. Not once in your letter did you mention a single positive trait in the man. You wish to keep together a family that your husband has eroded.
My first tidbit of advice is this: Go back to counseling. If you actually plan to live out your life this way, you will need every ounce of support you can pay for. My second tidbit would be to talk to a lawyer. You may want to keep the family unit intact, but the price seems exorbitant to me.
Dear Abby: I have a very close friend, “Sandy.” Sandy and I talk about everything. She suffers from bipolar disorder, which, for the most part, is controlled. However, she has hit a downswing.
A few months ago, she volunteered to start babysitting my child, one evening a week for a few hours. Sandy has never had the first complaint about my child or her behavior. Recently, she came over for a visit and unloaded on me. She said she finds my child annoying, that my child has a problem listening and constantly interrupts and complains. I was completely taken aback. Abby, I have never received complaints about my child’s behavior, and over the course of the months, Sandy never indicated that something was wrong.
I have been a great friend to her, always welcoming her in my home and helping however I can. I don’t know what to do. I am hurt and angry. I feel like she just barged in and insulted my kid. I’m no longer sure I want to remain close to her because of this. Is this characteristic of bipolar disorder? How do I express my feelings to her without risking having her fly off the handle? Please help. – Harsh Words in the South
Dear Harsh Words: Not having met your child, I am not going to weigh in on whether what Sandy said was a slight. She may have been conveying something she thought you needed to know.
That said, because Sandy finds your child annoying, she should no longer babysit for you. All children interrupt at one point or another. They don’t always behave perfectly. I hope you won’t take what Sandy told you as an insult worthy of ending a longtime friendship over, particularly knowing the woman has mood swings and has been cycling down.