Hum­bled and lov­ing hus­band — too late?

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

DEAR AN­NIE >> I was a lousy hus­band. Not be­cause of phys­i­cal or emo­tional abuse but be­cause of ig­no­rance. I grew up in a house­hold where I never heard my fa­ther tell my mother he loved her. I never heard him give her a com­pli­ment or ask her opinion.

He was a hard worker and a good provider. She bought what­ever she needed, never wanted for any­thing. She just ex­isted. I just ex­isted. I guess you can say we were just not a fam­ily. We were three peo­ple liv­ing in the same house do­ing what we were sup­posed to do.

I treated my wife in the same way. She didn’t com­plain. She came from the same kind of fam­ily. She was an an­gel; she de­served much bet­ter. It wasn’t un­til she passed and I lived alone with time to learn from the me­dia that I un­der­stood how ig­no­rant I was and how bad I was to her. I wish I could tell her how much I loved her and that I am truly sorry.

— Ig­no­rant Hus­band

DEAR IG­NO­RANT HUS­BAND >> Ig­no­rant hus­bands don’t write letters like this one. Your let­ter does not come across as be­ing from some­one ig­no­rant. In fact, it comes across — you come across — as some­one who might have made some mis­takes in the past and has al­ways cared deeply. Your abil­ity to ex­press that has changed.

Your wife sounds like an amaz­ing woman, and I am truly sorry for your loss. But rest as­sured that you are be­ing way too hard on your­self. If you had this re­al­iza­tion, I’m sure you had mo­ments of love and joy. Try to re­mem­ber all of the good times you had with your wife.

When we know bet­ter, we do bet­ter. At the time, you didn’t know, so there is no use in beat­ing your­self up. You’re griev­ing right now. Find a sup­port group for wid­ow­ers. Per­haps in­di­vid­ual coun­sel­ing could help you. Just by writ­ing this let­ter, you are bring­ing aware­ness to other hus­bands or spouses who might be do­ing the same thing and want to change. Thank you for shar­ing your story and ex­press­ing how much you love your wife. I have no doubt she knows it.

DEAR AN­NIE >> The let­ter you printed from “StressedOu­t Stu­dent,” who had no idea what sub­ject to pur­sue in uni­ver­sity, re­ally struck a chord with me. Your ad­vice to con­sult the ca­reer coun­sel­ing of­fice was spo­ton. A prop­erly run ca­reer coun­sel­ing of­fice will give the stu­dent psy­cho­me­t­ric tests, which will give him or her a good idea what ca­reers would be suit­able for them.

I have al­ways thought this type of test­ing should be manda­tory in the fi­nal year of high school. At the end of an aca­demic year, af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school, stu­dents gen­er­ally are ex­pected to go on to col­lege or uni­ver­sity or vo­ca­tional school, but they have never had an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the world and find out for them­selves who they re­ally are and what they re­ally like. Of­ten, stu­dents pick a di­rec­tion af­ter high school that is to­tally inap­pro­pri­ate for them.

In the best-case sce­nario, this sim­ply means the loss of time un­til they sort it out. How­ever, in too many cases, this can lead to fi­nan­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems. This is re­ally se­ri­ous. If, as a so­ci­ety, we can af­ford to ed­u­cate our chil­dren to the high school level, then surely we can af­ford to help them get to the next stage in their lives by giv­ing them this ca­reer coun­sel­ing as­sis­tance.

— A For­mer Stressed Out Stu­dent

DEAR FOR­MER STRESSED OUT STU­DENT >> You make your case well, and I am sure many read­ers will thank you for it. At the same time, there is no sub­sti­tute for ex­pe­ri­ence, even if it means strug­gling to find one­self while in your late teens or early 20s. What ap­pears like lost time can ac­tu­ally be a tremen­dous learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that will pay off later in life.

“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.cre­ator­spub­lish­ for more in­for­ma­tion. Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dear­an­[email protected]

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