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As wife changes, husband feels left behind

DEAR AMY When we were dating, my wife was the sweetest woman in the world. She didn't make a move without asking me. We had a few kids. She stayed home and raised them while I worked. The kids grew up and went off on their own. The wife got a part-time job to keep herself busy. Then she got promoted. Now she works full-time, goes to business lunches and dinners, meetings and training sessions. She comes home, cooks and cleans. She doesn't ask me what I'd like for dinner but makes whatever she feels like. Our plan was for me to retire when I turned 62 (she's 57), buy an RV and travel the country. Well, we bought the RV, but she can only go on weekend trips. She traded in the car I bought her to tote the kids around for a sports car I barely fit in. Now she's talking about getting a smaller house because she doesn't have time to clean "a big empty house." I keep telling her we will have grandkids one day and she will be glad we have all the space. She's changed so much in 37 years that I don't even recognize her, and I'm afraid one day I will wake up to a "for sale" sign in my front yard. How do I convince her she is just going through "the change" and in a few years she will be back to normal again?

Mystified Mike

DEAR MIKE Your wife is definitely going through a change, but it might not be "the change." Your job is not to blame your wife's choices on menopause. In fact, that notion is quite condescending and offensive. Please, don't go there.

It seems you two had a very traditional relationship, and she has switched the rules. There are a number of things you could do differently, but your situation basically boils down to this: When your wife grows and changes, you have choices -- you can either cry into your cups and complain that she no longer asks you for your menu choices before cooking and cleaning for you after working all day, or you can step up like a good partner and show your wife that you, too, are capable of growth and change.

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