Dear Annie: I’ve been married for 26 years. I have a 24-year-old son at home on the autism spectrum, and his 4-year-old daughter, of whom he has full custody. They get by with my help, and money, of course.
I have always been a very loving and supportive husband. I cook, clean, do laundry and whatever else needs to be done. I’m getting older now and developing arthritis. For a while, I would push through the pain to pamper my wife. Now, when we sit down, she throws her leg on me and says, “Rub my feet.” I didn’t mind when she appreciated it, but now that she expects it, this ruins it for me. If I say no, she gets upset.
When I try to talk to her about it, she turns it back on me and says that I shouldn’t blame her for my problems. She said that since I’ve been doing it so long, she just expects it. This is not very comforting. She said, “Why don’t you have some alone time and do something that makes you happy?”
For 26 years, I’ve never had alone time. I go to work, and then go home to my family. If I tell my wife I want to go somewhere by myself, she assumes I’m going to meet another woman. Plus, after 26 years of only thinking about my family, I have no clue what makes me happy. I just know I’m not. — Resentment
Dear Resentment: No one likes to feel unappreciated. Your wife ordering you to rub her feet sounds like she is acting more like a tyrant than a considerate, loving partner. Then again, you have allowed this reign of terror for quite some time.
Instead of brewing like a little teakettle that is going to blow, just tell her exactly how you feel. It is understandable that her lack of appreciation has made you not want to do nice things for her, but you have to tell her that. Couples therapy could help ease this conversation, so that pent-up resentments could be dealt with calmly.
Dear Annie: I read with interest the letter from the 63-year-old mother whose children felt she was wasting her money by going back to school and finishing her degree. I dropped out of college to put my husband through school when his father became ill and could not help him financially anymore.
After four children, two of whom got college degrees, I decided to go back to college and finish my degree. I chose to major in accounting.
I graduated cum laude at the age of 56. It took me seven months to get the job of my dreams, but after eight years of working, my husband and I were able to pay everything off, accumulate a great nest egg, and now we can travel wherever we want. Better yet, our children don’t have to worry about taking care of us if things were to get bad.
Our children would not have dared to tell me I was making a mistake, even though my husband had a nice pension in addition to Social Security. I don’t know what this woman’s situation is, but she is making a great choice to go for what she wants. I hope she finishes what she started. — Happy I Went Back to College
Dear Happy I Went Back: Thank you for sharing your letter. You set a wonderful example that it is never too late to fulfill your dreams and that taking risks can pay off. Congrats again. In addition to the financial security that you have achieved, you have the knowledge that you acquired by going back to school.
I am reminded of a family saying: “You can lose your money, your looks and your youth, but no one can take away your education.”