DEAR ABBY: My husband is 38; I am 36. We have been together for 13 years, married for 11. We never wanted children, although we have some pets. My problem is, we’ve fallen into a parent-child relationship, where I’m starting to feel like the child. He enables me to the point that if I’m the least bit distressed (i.e., doing dishes and getting frustrated because there are a lot), he takes over what I’m doing. He even tucks me into bed and kisses me goodnight, turns off the light and closes the door. Because of our work schedules, we sleep at different times. I find this strange.
I have mentioned it to him before, and it hurt his feelings. I love him dearly, but seeing him as my “parent” is starting to make it hard for me to love him as my husband. I have asked him to go to therapy, but he is unwilling. I am very blunt when it comes to saying things, and it generally triggers arguments. How can I tell him all of this bothers me without starting a huge fight? — ADULT WOMAN/WIFE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR ADULT: It’s interesting the way different people can view the same situation. From my perspective, you married a man who adores you and wants to help when he sees you are frustrated with something. Because you sleep separately, he comes into the bedroom to kiss you goodnight because he loves his wife. That this triggers a negative reaction surprises me. Many women — including me — would be thrilled.
However, because his demonstrations of affection bother you, choose a time when you can have a calm discussion and explain to him how these gestures affect you. It also might be worth your while to schedule a session or two with a licensed psychotherapist to give you some insight about why you react so negatively toward your husband’s loving gestures that you would write me about it.
DEAR ABBY: I recently made the acquaintance of a woman who just moved into our neighborhood. We are both new members of a local civic club. I asked if she would like to attend an upcoming event for the group and have breakfast afterward. It was a bad move on my part, because she now seems to think I am her best friend.
She sends me text messages throughout the day — seven yesterday alone. She constantly asks me for rides to meetings and local events, often at the last minute. I’m sure she’s lonely, but I am busy with a husband. I also volunteer for a nonprofit group and manage a short-term rental property. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t have time for someone this needy. How do I tell her to back off? — STRESSED IN RETIREMENT
DEAR STRESSED: Convey that message directly — but kindly — by explaining that you are busy with a husband, volunteering for a nonprofit and managing real estate and don’t have time to maintain the kind of relationship she’s seeking. Tell her you will reach out to her when you have an opening in your schedule. Then suggest she may meet more like-minded people and make more friends if she begins volunteering in the community, too.
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 DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.