The Washington Post
Husband refuses to leave small town
I am 64 and retired. My husband is 62 and has his own homebased business. He said he was going to retire, but now he’s saying he will work part time so that we will have extra money “to play.”
We moved to an extremely small town, which has very few entertainment opportunities. It entails over two hours of driving to get all but the most basic of medical care. Most of the women here grew up with their friends and are not welcoming.
There is also snow on the ground for six months of the year, and I have physical problems that make it difficult and risky for me to walk in it. My husband is happy here. He has friends through his work and doesn’t really care about spending time with people.
He’s an outdoor guy. All I do is watch TV with him or wait for him to not be working. I want to move to a place where I have more options for friendship and entertainment, but he refuses to move.
He doesn’t like to travel, and I am afraid the rest of my life will be spent living in this fishbowl where I can only look outside and be alone. He rejects the idea of looking for another place and becomes angry when I bring it up.
What should I do now? — Trapped Wife
Trapped: Your husband’s “play fund” seems to apply only to him. There doesn’t seem to be much play in your life. I assume that you have done your utmost to engage in the social life of your chilly home. Joining book groups, volunteering at the library or getting a part-time job would help to keep you engaged and active.
You are unhappy. You are cold. Your health is at risk. You have not adjusted to life in this place.
For the remainder of this winter, you might spend time researching options. Do you have friends or family members living in more congenial locales? If so, you should look into alternatives for places to stay for at least the worst of the winter. You might be able to rent or share a room.
My overall point is that you obviously feel trapped, but perhaps you should not look to your husband for solutions.
Dear Amy: Some longtime friends and I hadn’t seen each other for years and recently got together for a few days to reconnect. While at a restaurant for lunch, one friend discreetly picked up the tab. Upon finding out the bill was taken care of, “Alice” vocally refused this kind gesture and asked the waitress, “Can you reverse the payment?”
I quietly said, “Alice, just say thank you. It’s the graceful thing to do.” Alice got upset and loudly questioned: “Did you just tell me what to do?” — drawing the attention of the rest of our table. She made a face at me, gave me “the hand” and turned to the waitress, saying, “Don’t you just hate it when other people tell you what to do?” The waitress stood there awkwardly. I said nothing, but it rattled me.
Now that we are all back home, I wanted to follow up with Alice and sort this out, but both my sister, my husband and another friend who was there have all advised me to just let it be. Unfortunately, I’m still dwelling on it.
Perhaps I should have just said nothing and let it play out between Alice, the friend who paid the bill and the waitress? How might I better handle this type of situation should it happen again? — Lost my Lunch
Lost: Given how this episode played out, I assume you wish you’d stayed quiet, and yet you did nothing wrong. You offered a friend your gentle feedback (I agree with you, by the way), and she aggressively and publicly shut you down.
I’m not sure why you would want to contact “Alice” to sort this out, other than to ask for an apology for her harshness, which you surely would not receive.
Dear Amy: I’m still bothered by the letter from “Anonymous,” a self-described “man-child” who wants no kids, pets, home — or any adult responsibilities. I wonder who he thinks will take care of him when he needs care? — Grown Up
Grown Up: Caregiving in elder years isn’t the only reason to have children, but — if you raise them right — kids can certainly come in handy.