DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 13 years, and I’m beginning to wonder if my husband still wants to be with me. He gets home before I do and stays in his room watching TV and piddling around on the computer. He never comes out to say hello when I get home; I go in there and greet him. He comes out when I have dinner fixed and then returns to his room.
I understand the “man cave” thing. Everyone needs their time and space, but this has become an everyday routine. I have tried to tell him I feel ignored. The next night he’ll come into the living room and watch TV with me, but I feel he’s doing it only because he feels he should, not because he wants to.
Is this my clue that he doesn’t care about sharing time with me anymore? I don’t want to beg for his attention. — Lonely in North Carolina
DEAR LONELY: It appears that way. You refer to the room in which your husband watches TV and uses his computer as “his” room and not a den. Does he also sleep in there? If that’s the case, and the only time you spend together is at the dinner table, your marriage is in suspended animation.
If what he’s watching on television or his computer has become a substitute for having a relationship with you — and that’s what it appears — you need to find out what happened to the intimacy you once shared. What you have described is a platonic roommate relationship and not a healthy marriage.
If you want to change the dynamics, you need to have some serious conversations with your husband about what your needs are, and also his. Start now.
Speaking a different language
DEAR ABBY: My parents immigrated here from a foreign country 20 years ago. Although they speak some basic English, they have yet to become even remotely fluent in the language. As a result, they are always asking me to do everything for them: pay their bills, file their taxes, go with them to doctors’ appointments, translate for delivery people and take my mom on errands because she doesn’t drive. I am irritated.
When will they learn English? I am the CHILD, not the parent. I feel like I have been a mini-adult for many years as their personal chauffeur, secretary, interpreter, etc. I don’t mind doing occasional favors for them, but enough is enough. What should I do? — Beyond Frustrated in Chicago
DEAR BEYOND FRUSTRATED: I think you should take into consideration that learning a new language is much easier for children than it is for adults. You were immersed in English when you went to school and were exposed to it not only in the classroom but also on the playground. Your parents weren’t so lucky. They should have enrolled in an ESL class right away, but instead apparently interacted only with people who spoke their language.
However, it’s never too late to make an effort, so encourage them to start NOW. A way to persuade them would be to ask them what they would do if, heaven forbid, something happened to you. Some people who have picked up English did so by watching English language television.
You are not alone in having this problem. The children of every ethnic group that has come to the United States has experienced what you are.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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