Annie Lane: Divided family

Published 5:56 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

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Dear Annie: My wife, “Jill,” and I have been married for seven years, together for nine. When we first met, my wife’s daughter, husband and children lived with her, and I lived in another city with my two sons who are mentally challenged. We dated for two years and finally married on Sept. 4, 2015. We married because of our faith, and I still lived with my sons for two years because her daughter and family still lived with her.

Her daughter finally moved, but because of a problem with another family member, she moved several states away. Jill owns the house. Now she feels that she needs to see them every three months. Every time she goes, it seems to be for longer periods of time. It started out at five days, a time she first suggested, and has moved to 11-plus days because her daughter wanted to spend more time with her. I told her that I have a hard time when she leaves and I am alone during this time. I am 72 and still working. She says she needs to see them and won’t consider talking about it because she’s going to see them anyway. It’s very draining on me both physically and mentally.

This wasn’t the marriage I was hoping for. She set us up to meet with a female counselor. They made me feel like I was selfish for my feelings. Am I? It seems like her daughter has the final say in what happens. I love my wife very much. I don’t know if I would have wanted to marry her if I had known this is where it was going to go. Maybe I am wrong for feeling this way, but I do. I haven’t had anyone I can talk to about this, and I guess I want to know if I am being selfish. Jill has it set in her mind that nothing is going to change and I have to learn to deal with it. I feel like I am a housesitter when she is gone. She tells me she will always return home. I don’t feel as confident. Am I wrong for feeling this way?

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— Confused and Hurt

Dear Confused and Hurt: You’re not wrong for missing your wife when she’s away for these extended periods of time. As her husband, I’d be worried if you didn’t.

If it’s feasible with your work schedule, why not tag along on a trip? Even if you can’t stay as long, a few days or a long weekend would give you face time with everyone. They’re your family, too, and you shouldn’t feel excluded or like you’re purely meant to keep an eye on the house while Jill is away.

Continue with the marital counseling, and continue to speak up. If you feel as if they are all ganging up on you, say so. If the counselor is dismissive of your needs, find a new one. I’d recommend you also find your own therapist to meet with one-on-one.

• • •

Dear Annie: I frequently see letters from people wanting more friends or a romantic interest. A suggestion I’ve not seen: subscribe to your local newspaper. It will have listings of events including free concerts at the park, volunteer activities, support groups, kids activities, senior events, gardening clubs and on and on. When I moved to my community, I subscribed for three months so I could get to know the town. I’m still getting it 18 years later!

Some years ago, I saw a listing for a monthly folk music singalong. The mandolin player and I will celebrate our eighth anniversary in September, and we were in our 60s. There’s hope for all, and there’s fun out there, too.

— Finding Friends or Lovers

Dear Finding: What a sweet meet-cute for you and your beau, and a fabulous suggestion to those seeking companionship, love or maybe a new hobby. Newspapers hold a wealth of information and, as you’ve mentioned, the ins and outs that make up a community. I hope other readers will check out what their local papers have to offer as we head into the summer season.

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