Dear Annie: I have been married to my wife for just over two years. We each have a child from a previous marriage, and we have a child together. A few months ago, she started accusing me of distancing myself from her. I was confused by this, as I truly hadn’t intended to. I thought everything had been going OK.
Well, it turns out that she was the one trying to distance herself. She told me last month that she wants to take some time apart to figure out if she still wants to be with me.
I’ve tried talking to her about it to find out why she wants space. She’s given me a variety of different reasons. I’ve heard her out, acknowledged her concerns and offered solutions — but they’re never enough. She just comes up with more excuses. She has also mentioned that men flirt with her at work and she enjoys the attention.
She says she’s still making up her mind about our marriage, but I feel like I can read the writing on the wall and know where this is headed. I’m absolutely heartbroken. Any advice you could offer would be absolutely welcome. — So Very Lost
Dear Lost: Marriages can survive almost anything if both partners are willing to put in the work. But your wife isn’t meeting you halfway, or even part of the way. In fact, she seems intent on heading the opposite direction. Keep focusing on what you can control, and if she ultimately decides she wants out, know that you did all you could. By the sound of it, you’re a loving, caring partner, and if your wife can’t appreciate that, someone else will, down the line. But I am sorry for your heartache in the meantime.
Dear Annie: I am a 49-year-old woman, and my youngest brother is 45. Our mom passed away very young. I was 8; he was 4. Our dad was an auto factory worker who spent long days working hard to support five kids on his own. A lot of our household duties fell on my shoulders. I was not the oldest, but I guess you could say I was the only one that cared about the “true” meaning of family. My dad said he knew that he could always count on me.
Because of this, my youngest brother has always looked at me kind of like a mom. Except lately, his behavior has changed, and he only seems to want me around or even care about me when he needs money. I am a union asphalt road worker, and although I make a great wage, I don’t want to just give it away. But when I say no, he flips out and tells me he will be hungry and it’s my fault. I don’t want my brother hungry, so I give him food instead of money, but it’s never enough. Any suggestions? — Brother’s Keeper
Dear Brother’s Keeper: Never do for others what they can just as easily do for themselves. The best way to truly help your brother in the long term is to quit “helping” him in these surface-level ways now. He’s an adult and capable of caring for himself. By detaching with love, you’ll give him the chance to find that out.
Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.