Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: For the majority of our 10 years together, my wife has been a housekeeper at various hotels. This is physically demanding, low-paying work. It has taken a toll on her knees and back. She does not seem happy there. In my career, I've been fairly lucky. I have a fulfilling and stable job that provides more than enough income for our household -- and extras. That's where the problem lies. I have weekends and holidays off. We are never off at the same time and miss important events in each other's lives. Almost all of our "fun time" is spent separately. I want to spend the weekends together and start to enjoy the benefits from our years of hard work. I want her to change careers. When I try to encourage her to do this, she has a very negative reaction. She is under the impression that I think housekeeping is "not a real job" or "beneath" her. When I tell her about job openings I think look good or suggest she go back to school, she rejects them. Although my goal is to bring us closer together, we end up fighting. If she truly does enjoy this work (I don't believe she does), then I want her to be happy, but I still want more from our marriage. How can I approach this in a different way? I'm beginning to think she prefers to be alone instead of with me.

Lonely Husband

DEAR LONELY: If your wife has options and she chooses to continue in this field, then you should assume that she likes it, even if she complains about it.

So when she comes home complaining about her back and her knees, you say, "Oh, I'm so sorry. You do work hard." Don't offer lots of suggestions about going to school or point her toward other jobs. Why? Because every time you do, she doubles down and recommits to her profession.

Concentrate on your very reasonable desire to spend more time together. Can she change her shifts even one weekend a month? Is she willing to negotiate about this? If not, then I agree that her commitment to your relationship is not what it could (and should) be, and you should assume there is a deeper reason she does not want to spend time with you.

DEAR AMY: My best friend of over 40 years recently told me that he doesn't want to be my friend anymore. I was very hurt and shocked. "Gary" and I met in music school. We were roommates in college, played in a rock band and even took vacations together. He was my best man when my wife and I got married over 37 years ago. My wife and I moved to the East Coast some years ago, but Gary and I kept in touch. He is now with a woman whom he identifies as his "wife," although they are not married (he has never been married). I wrote Gary a four-page letter and apologized if I ever did anything to offend or hurt him, asking him to be honest with me about the problem between us. He wrote back, saying the problem was more with himself than me. That was it. Could Gary actually be bisexual, and is hurt that I "left him" -- emotionally and geographically?

Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: Are you bisexual, because you have such a deep attachment to this man? Obviously such speculation is pointless.

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When someone tells you, "It's not you, it's me," sometimes it is wisest to believe him.

DEAR AMY: Regarding the couple who are selling their household goods and allowing family members first chance before the sale ("Trying to Decide Well"), I heard recently about a couple who were moving. They announced at church one Sunday that at a particular time and day, everyone was welcome to come to their house and take, for free, any item that they wanted. At the end of the day, only three or four items were left. For those who can afford to do so, it was a generous and easy way to donate everyday items.

DBK

DEAR DBK: I absolutely love this idea.