DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married for 37 years. We have a fairly good marriage. However, when it comes to communication, there’s a lot of room for improvement. I would very much like to get a second dog. I’m home alone all day because I am on disability; I have few friends, and my social life consists of the time and attention I give my dog, “Rascal,” a standard schnauzer.
We can well afford another dog; we have a big enough home, a fenced-in yard — all of the things necessary for responsible dog ownership. The problem is, if I mention the subject, my wife gets very angry and immediately dismisses the idea without any discussion.
We don’t discuss issues in our home. If my wife gives her thumbs-up, then it’s a go. If she gives a thumbs-down, it’s no-go. I don’t think there’s any reason why her refusal to get another dog should trump my desire to get one. Ideally, we should be able to sit down over a meal and collegially discuss the issue and base the decision upon what we mutually agree upon. Unfortunately, no such scenario exists.
I would appreciate any help you could give me. I would very much like another dog because having them brings me much joy and needed company. I don’t ask for much. I don’t understand why this is an issue. — LONELY FOR MORE IN OHIO
DEAR LONELY: Your problem is twofold. One is acquiring another dog. The other is the imbalance of power in your marriage. I agree that important decisions like this should be shared, but that’s not how things work between you and your wife. In your household, she has taken on the role of “alpha dog.”
Unless the two of you open enough lines of communication that you can be heard, nothing will change, and you will grow increasingly unhappy. If you can afford a licensed marriage and family therapist, make an appointment to talk with one about this and any other issues you and your wife can’t agree on. And I hope you are aware that you do not need her permission to get a second dog, if you are the person who will ensure it gets the love and care it needs.
DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law is with this woman, “Jana,” who has three children. They call him Dad. I’ve no idea where the real father is. Jana is controlling, bipolar and a drunk. She doesn’t cook or clean. His mother is sick, but he doesn’t visit her because of Jana. They will be married in a few months.
No on in our family liked Jana from the beginning. We have reason to believe he doesn’t love her and that he’s just attached to the kids. We have tried warning him, but Jana is louder, and he hears her more than he hears us. I don’t think we should go to the wedding. Should we let him go through with it and attend to support him? I don’t want those kids to suffer if their parents are in a miserable marriage. — OBJECTING TO IT
DEAR OBJECTING: If Jana is as bad as you say, the kids are already suffering. While I agree that it may be ill-advised for your brother-in-law to marry someone with as much baggage as Jana is bringing to their union, he’s an adult and you can’t stop him.
Whether their marriage will last is anybody’s guess based upon how much pain your BIL can tolerate. But you should definitely go to that wedding, if only to show him you are there for him on that day AND ALWAYS.