Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for nearly three decades. Up until seven years ago, my husband, who is very sensitive, had a difficult time making friends. Oh, he’s super funny, charismatic and adventurous, but he struggled outside the home.
Then he started finding groups of guys who were as adventurous and fun as he was. However, my husband has always been self-centered and took off on loads of trips.
For the past seven years, it has been trip after trip of four to seven days. He asks me to celebrate his kids’ birthdays, and sometimes he doesn’t even consider that his kids are on winter or spring vacation — because he always seems to make other plans.
My kids are resentful, and I’m tired of making excuses. I’m not unhappy or looking for a divorce. Should I just continue to let this go? He’s not open to change, even if it could affect his family relationships. I’m going with immature and selfish because his behavior makes no sense. — Single Parent in a Two-Parent Family
Dear Single Parent in a Two-Parent Family: I believe that you’re correct that he is immature and selfish, though communication is the key to understanding why he is acting this way. Some people try to push the limits about what is acceptable until they are corrected, and if this is what he is doing, he will not recognize it until you speak with him.
You need to sit down with him and talk with him about how his constant travel and neglect makes you and your family feel. Ask him for more attention to your needs. You will want to form a compromise that allows him to still spend time on trips with friends but carves out time for you and the children. If that doesn’t work, then add insensitive to immature and selfish, and get into couples counseling.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been together for 28 years. He’s a very sweet and loving man, but his watching other women really bothers me. It happens whenever we’re out together, even in church!
I know there will always be women who are better-looking or better built; but it’s really demeaning and leaves me with such an empty feeling. I’ve talked to him about this, and he doesn’t seem to take my concerns seriously. A simple glance, not a problem, but to continue watching is just too much.
What do I do? Do I keep smiling and pretend not to notice? What can I do? At this point, I don’t like going out. — Feeling Insignificant in Florida
Dear Feeling Insignificant in Florida: On a positive note, wandering eyes are better than wandering hands. I am glad that you aren’t concerned that something more serious is happening, which implies that the foundation of your marriage is strong.
Given that, you should be able to have a direct conversation with your husband. Let him know that this makes you feel insignificant to him and that it hurts. Understand that he will likely continue to notice attractive people but that he shouldn’t look more than a simple glance. Offer to come up with a cue that will recall his attention if he lapses, such as a tug at his hand. It will likely take a bit of training because he probably isn’t aware that he’s even staring.