Q: I have been happily married for 20 years to an amazing man, “Boyd.” Eight months ago, he left his administrative job to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming an actor. He is working hard on auditions and shoots, and I am very proud of him. However, when he left his job, it felt to me like a pronouncement rather than the result of our usual mutual decisions.
Unfortunately, I communicated my frustration to family members at the time, and they have completely written Boyd off. They don’t want to talk to him or hear news about him, and he is not welcome in their homes.
Boyd didn’t take this well. He has, in return, written THEM off. It has reached the point that I can’t share news about them with him. I have had to take down family photos, which was my choice but it felt necessary.
The irony is my family felt he had created undue stress for me, but the breach in family harmony has been far more stressful than my husband’s career change. Any thoughts on how to bring detente to this situation? It’s keeping me up at night. — Actor’s Wife in Atlanta
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A: Have you told your family that by shunning your husband they have caused you more stress than his decision — however one-sided it may have been — to become an actor? If you haven’t you should, because it is causing discord in your marriage. Your relatives do not have the right to punish your husband for his career choice, and you should not have encouraged or allowed them to alienate him.
You may want to remind them that you and Boyd are a unit, and if they care about more contact with you, they will bury the hatchet. Or perhaps you could convince everyone to agree to family counseling. The ball is now in your court because you are the person who started it rolling.
Q: My husband and I have been married for a very long time and have a good marriage. However, he has one annoying habit that drives me crazy. We live in a small house, and he has stacks and piles of things lying around collecting dust and creating clutter.
When I ask him to put them away, he says just to leave them where they are so he will remember to look at them “someday.” Abby, these are videos, magazines, books or paperwork. It could be anything, really, like some gadget he wants to check out.
A neat and tidy house is important to me. This is nothing new; it has been going on during our entire marriage. What can I say to him to get him to change his ways? — Anti-Clutter in Iowa
A: Probably not much at this point. But I can offer this insight. The tendency to do what your husband is doing is a sign of OCD, an anxiety disorder. For your husband, letting go of things he “may” want to look at “sometime” can be emotionally upsetting. A doctor might be able to help your husband, but that would necessitate your husband admitting that what he has been doing is causing a problem.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.