DEAR AMY: I have been with my husband for 30 years. We are both in our 70s and this is a second marriage for both of us. I was widowed, and he was divorced. My husband is not an easy person to be with. He treats me like a child and I can’t make any decisions without having to give an “accounting,” whether buying items at the grocery store, reading a certain book or magazine or purchasing personal wear. He is so hypercritical about everything, none of his siblings talk to him; his adult children don’t talk to him and his grandchildren only call him a couple times a year. He was an educator and he is always correcting people, even in social gatherings. If a person makes a mistake about something, he will make it his business to correct them. He also does this with me; it is like I’m always in a classroom. We don’t do anything for fun and don’t go anywhere. We just stay at home and I am miserable. I am a “people person” and if I get a phone call, he questions why that person is calling, or he’ll tell me if and when to call them back. He doesn’t have any outside activities. I try to get him involved with the neighbors and he criticizes them. I need some peace of mind.
DEAR TRAPPED: The behavior you describe is extremely controlling. If someone you cared about described being locked into this sort of dynamic, would you tell them to stick it out?
You’ve invested a huge chunk of your life in this relationship, but must you stay in it?
Just because your husband treats everyone the way he treats you, doesn’t make it any more acceptable. You paint a picture of someone who is intent on controlling every aspect of your life, including your friendships. You are a “people person,” and yet you describe sitting at home and never going out.
Realistically, your husband is unlikely to change. And so — if his attitude and behavior never changes, you need to think about what changes you can make.
You can try to push back, by simply going where you want to go and being active and happy outside of your home, but if you being you makes your home life untenable, then you should liberate yourself from your home life.
Counseling could help you to clarify your marriage’s dynamic, as well as your options now.
DEAR AMY: I am mother to a beautiful 3-year-old daughter. I work 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. I feel like I’m missing out on so much of her life because I’m stuck at work all day. I pick her up from my mom’s and get home around seven. Sometimes she falls asleep on the way home, so I don’t get to spend time with her. I try to squeeze in a workout, but I feel like I have to choose to either work out or hang out with her. I could wake up earlier and go work out, but I hate the idea of waking her up earlier so I can get something done for myself. I feel there are not enough hours in the day. I like my job but the hours aren’t that great and I don’t get to spend time with my daughter. Should I look for another job, or should I just accept that this is life?
DEAR TIRED: If you can find another job that compensates you enough and where you work fewer hours, then definitely take it.
But working full time Monday through Friday is what working parents do. So yes, this is life. It’s. Just. Hard. Especially with an adorable child waiting in the wings.
You are worried about workouts, and it is important that you take care of yourself, so you should wake up early and work out in your home. You will have more energy if you do. You should also be as active as possible with your daughter on your off-hours, playing in the park on the weekends and maybe finding a “mommy and me” class to take together.
DEAR AMY: I used to be annoyed about noisy babies on planes until I flew back from China on a plane full of newly adopted orphans. There were probably 75 babies on that plane, and I’m sure some of them cried, but I didn’t mind a bit. One of them was my new granddaughter.
Proud Grandma in Tucson
DEAR PROUD: Now I’m crying.