Moving Out and Moving On
Dear Annie: I lived with my husband for 50 years. We met spontaneously, and I moved in with him soon afterward. He was different from the norm. He was smart, always outgoing and had many great friends. I fell deeply in love. We got married after a few years together and began to build our careers in businesses, where we both became respected and successful in our fields. Over those years, we also partied excessively, and hung out with people who would eventually end up in prison. We moved beyond our youthful acts and raised a family. But he never stopped bragging about his earlier, danger-filled exploits to anyone and everyone. And his stories have grown to new exaggerated versions or downright lies.
I also painfully discovered that he considers himself a ladies' man, and has been secretly wining and dining other women. As much as I worked to make our lives better and make myself more attractive, I became more and more depressed. I felt I wasn't good enough. I confronted him several times about all of these issues and nothing ever improved.
Through an "aha" moment and research, I came to discover that I married a sociopath. I have been trying to fix someone who cannot be fixed. He ignores my attempts to improve our relationship because he doesn't care. He's not wired for it. I am finally working through all of this through therapy, particularly mindfulness meditation. I feel like a new person. I'm writing this because the symptoms have been there all along, and I was too busy, tired or ashamed to deal with it until now. I wish more information had been available to me earlier in my life about the prospects for a loving relationship with a sociopath. I found that he may often say and do the right things, but it is all an act and short-lived. With no regrets, I am now moving on with the second half of my time on this earth! I am happier and really enjoy life. -- Breathing Free
Dear Breathing: And I am so happy for you. I appreciate your sharing your story here so that it might be a light for someone who's in the dark, as you were.
Dear Annie: I was a little disappointed by your advice to "Bent But Not Broken in Missouri" who started her letter: "My husband and I moved to another state following our retirements a few years ago. We moved to a resort town six hours away from my brother Billy and his wife, Patty." The writer continued to complain that family was not coming to see them or visit them with any frequency.
I agree with your advice that she should focus on her friends and not on her family, but she also must see the fingers pointed back at herself. If you choose to move six hours away after retirement, you should assume you'll be making frequent trips back "home," if you intend to stay in touch with your relatives there. Your relatives aren't required to suddenly plan vacations around you simply because you and yours decide to move to a new location after retirement.
I suggest that before those who move away become upset with relatives who stayed home, they start making plans to return to their roots to keep the relationships intact and not expect visits to their new locale in return. -- Goes Both Ways
Dear Goes Both Ways: You make a fair point, and you invoke a favorite aphorism of mine, "When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you." Thanks for offering another perspective.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.