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American Pie: Where Is "Dear Abby'' When You Need Her?

...She describes him as obsessive-compulsive and a chronic complainer. If that were not enough, in the lady’s opinion he is also mildly retarded and has a learning disability. She claims, understandably, that these limitations place an unfair load on her shoulders when it comes to handling the household affairs. And there’s more!...

Ace columnist John Merchant has been Googled into a "Dear Abby'' role.

Recently, I received an email from a woman in response to a column I wrote about married couples living apart. Apparently, she and her husband had taken this step. She came across my article on Google as a result of seeking information, though it’s not clear why, about other couples in similar circumstances. She did not disclose her age, but judging by the age of her children, I would guess she is in her mid-to-late sixties.

She begins by saying that she feels happier in her new situation, and then goes on to list the reasons why she did not want to continue living under the same roof as her husband. Once I’d read the list, I have to say I think she made the right decision, but more than that, I was astounded that she had stayed as long as she had, or even that she’d married the guy in the first place.

She describes him as obsessive-compulsive and a chronic complainer. If that were not enough, in the lady’s opinion he is also mildly retarded and has a learning disability. She claims, understandably, that these limitations place an unfair load on her shoulders when it comes to handling the household affairs. And there’s more!

She goes on to say that he has a negative personality, gets easily upset with other people, and has created friction with her children to the point that they do not want to associate with her anymore, though I’m not sure I understand that. One would think the children would be drawn to her in these circumstances.

Apparently the lady has been married before, and has other children by that marriage. Predictably, her husband has nothing good to say about them, which, understandably, she finds distressing, and characterizes it as “emotional abuse.” This prince of a guy refuses to share in the repayment of a loan on the house, and has assaulted her adult son, who retaliated and broke some of his stepfather’s ribs!

At this point I am asking myself if perhaps I am having my leg pulled, but since I have no way to verify the story, I go with the flow and read on to the end. The lady continues that her husband wants to move back in, but she will not agree to this as she feels they have a better quality of life when she doesn’t have to be around him constantly. No kidding!

She concludes by writing that she is not happily married, but finds it difficult to sue for divorce because her husband is so needy, and she wants to remain friends with him! For the life of me I cannot imagine why. For his part, he is not happy with the arrangement. She ends by asking if I would be interested in receiving more details! No way missus! I’m already more depressed than I want to be by what I have learned so far.

But putting on my “Dear Abby” hat, I have to say madam, that either you’re the most gullible person I have ever come across, or the most delusional. From what you have written, your husband doesn’t have a single redeeming characteristic, unless of course he is incredibly handsome, or likely to inherit a couple of estates in Europe some day, with an attendant fortune.

An alternative explanation has just occurred to me – perhaps you and your luckless spouse are positioning yourselves for an appearance on a reality show. But if that’s too wild a theory, and the old man really is as needy as you say, and I bet he is, then give him the heave-ho and let some other sucker tend to his needs. You’ll be better off, and perhaps your kids will come visit again.

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To read more of John's columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=john+merchant

And do visit John's Web site
http://home.comcast.net/~jwmerchant/site/

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