Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 30 years. We love each other madly. We worked in the same office for 15 years and retired at the same time, so we see each other constantly and almost exclusively as, by choice, we have few friends.
My wife has always had mood swings. She becomes very sensitive to the slightest perceived criticism, withdrawing into a chilling silence. In the past, this might happen once a year and last for a day. Then all is forgiven and life returns to normal. I don’t think she’s clinically depressed, although depression runs in her family. She’s not suicidal or anything. She just freezes me out of her life, which I find extremely painful, especially since she’s never willing to talk about it.
Now that she’s in her mid-60s, these episodes occur more frequently and with greater severity. On a recent vacation, I remarked that the merchandise at a touristy shop was not a very good value. She took this personally and stormed out. Her anger passed over the next few days, but I felt I had to handle her with kid gloves for the rest of the trip.
Is this normal aging? I’m living on pins and needles. How can I help her and restore our relationship? — Anxious Husband
Dear Husband: This is not normal aging. One doesn’t have to be suicidal to be depressed, and your wife’s family history might predispose her to work through her emotions in an unproductive manner. It will take some effort (and possibly medication) for her to control her moods. But first she must recognize that there is a problem. Tell her you would like to see a counselor for help with some difficulties you are having, and ask her to come with so you can work on them together.
Dear Annie: Love your column usually, but I want to say this about your reply to “Wanting Him,” who met her boyfriend online and doesn’t know how to tell her parents. You said, “We trust it isn’t a chat room for, say, vampires.”
I met the girl of my dreams online. She is now my fiancée and we intend to be married in October. We are both writers and met on an Internet vampire discussion list. She is the smartest, sweetest, most wonderful woman who ever walked this planet. I’m a fairly normal guy myself — usually. So please be more careful about where you say it’s OK to meet someone. — V
Dear V: We were surprised at the number of vampire fans who wrote to us. It almost made us pull out the garlic necklaces. All joking aside, we were not casting aspersions on those who utilize vampire chat rooms. We know the subject matter can be interesting and most members are not going to bite you on the neck. We were simply making the point that it might be harder to introduce a boyfriend to the parents if you met in a chat room that the folks would consider unusual or questionable, and we still believe this is true. Here’s one more clobber from the dark side:
Dear Annie: I am a member of an Internet mailing list for discussion of vampire fact, folklore and fiction. Our members include everyone from the casual fiction reader all the way to college-level literature professors, all of whom are intelligent, educated and wonderful friends. It was through this Internet list that I met my husband, to whom I have now been married for over 10 years.
I know the dangerous and even illegal things that some people are willing to do to impersonate vampires. However, the public needs to open its eyes and realize that the subject matter itself is NOT the culprit. As with anything else, there is a right and a wrong way to go about meeting someone online, just as there are right and wrong reasons to be interested in vampires. — Drac of the Sharp Smiles
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.13.08