Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Problem With My Wife

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I have been married for 47 years. I am retired now, but have no money problems. I do, however, have a problem with my wife.

I love "Harriet" dearly, but when I tell her this, she always comes back with a nasty reply. She never makes eye contact with me, and we never have a conversation unless she is upset about something. I am not allowed to touch her in any way, and we have not been intimate for years.

When I ask her what I could possibly do to make things better, she says I have to "change." I have tried to change so many times that I no longer have a clue what I am supposed to do. I pray every night that Harriet will accept me as I am. I just want to hold her in my arms.

I have asked her to see our pastor or a counselor, but she refuses. I think the reason is that she's afraid the counselor will suggest we try doing something together, and she doesn't want that.

I love Harriet in spite of how things are. I recently said, "Let's just talk nicely to each other and see if that makes things better." She said no. I know she would never want to have sex, and I doubt very much that I could, even if I wanted to, but it would be wonderful just to hold one another. If you have any suggestions, I would certainly appreciate it. -- Chicago

Dear Chicago: How sad for you. Has Harriet always been like this? If not, has she seen her doctor lately? Changes in personality can indicate physical or psychiatric problems that can be treated.

In the meantime, please consider counseling. We know Harriet isn't likely to go with you, but you can go alone and develop some coping strategies. Ask your doctor or pastor for a referral, or try the American Association of Pastoral Counselors ( and Samaritan Counseling Centers (

Dear Annie: I am writing in response to "Jane's Sad Neighbor," who discovered that her neighbor had died and the children had no funeral service. Jane was wrong to make such a request of her children.

People need to realize that the funeral ritual provides a valuable and much-needed service to the grieving. I have had people say to me, "When I die, just throw me in the grave. I don't want anything." My response has been, "If you can say you want the same thing for your child or spouse if they were to die, then we will do it for you." Most can't.


People think they are doing their family a favor by saving them money or sparing them the grief of the funeral ceremony, when really they are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to grieve properly. I am not advocating spending beyond your means, but a life lived should be honored at death. -- Sam Cummings Jr., President, Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association

Dear Sam Cummings: We agree that funeral services can provide a way for friends and family members to say goodbye, and we hope our readers will keep that in mind when making their decisions. Thank you for your expert opinion.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Apart in New Mexico," whose husband traveled frequently, and whose children missed their father.

My husband is in the U.S. Navy and often goes out to sea for long periods of time. When our daughters were young, he would leave them a piece of candy representing a "hug and kiss" for each day he was gone. That way they had a kiss and hug from him every day, and could also count down the days until his return. -- K.L. in Mayport, Fla.

Dear K.L.: What a "sweet" idea. (Folks, please don't tell us that candy is bad for them. One small piece a day isn't going to hurt.)


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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