DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married more than 40 years. As he’s grown older, he has become the stereotypical “grumpy old man.” Although he can be thoughtful, like giving me flowers for my birthday, he’s increasingly moody, impatient and angry. He often rants about politics and other things and won’t stop trying to impose his views on me. I agree with some of his opinions, but he gets upset if I disagree.
Because I don’t want an argument, I either don’t respond or leave the room, which also upsets him. Sometimes he apologizes because he knows his ranting upsets me, but shortly after, he resumes doing it. I love him and do a lot of things for him, but living with him can be a downer. Can you suggest any strategies for coping with my “grumpy old man”? — ENDURING IT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR ENDURING IT: Schedule an annual physical exam for yourself and your grumpy old man. Behavioral changes in an older person should not be minimized or ignored because they could be a symptom of physical (or mental) illness. Once you know what you are dealing with, take your cues from the doctor or spend less time one-on-one with your husband and tell him why.
DEAR ABBY: I’m 33 with a wonderful husband and amazing kids, ages 4 and 6. I have a close bond with my parents. We live in a city about 80 miles from them. It seems like we are always the ones to do the visiting, and I have to practically beg them to visit me for one overnight visit a year. My house is smaller than theirs, but we offer up our bedroom for their stay. Meanwhile, because my brother still lives at home with my parents, I sleep on an air mattress when I’m there.
Abby, I bend myself into a pretzel to make it work for them, and yet there are always excuses why they won’t visit. Mom tells me she misses the kids, but she invariably expects me to pack a bag and head that way. It’s frustrating. Sometimes our budget is so tight, I don’t have the luxury of spending an extra $70-plus in gas for a trip. My financial situation is not her burden, so I never mention it. I brought up just once in the past that she rarely visits, and she really does believe in her head that she visits at least twice a year. When I corrected her, she blew up.
I’m not sure how to feel about this. Sometimes it hurts inside like a rejection, and other times I feel like I need to tell myself to grow up. So here I am — in the middle, with grandkids who love their grandparents, grandparents who love their grandkids and, if I don’t play the mom-taxi, how will they see each other? — MOM-TAXI IN TENNESSEE
DEAR MOM-TAXI: They won’t. And when your mother asks why you have stopped coming, point out that fuel is costly and your budget is very tight. Then suggest that if she wants her grandchildren to remember her when she and your dad are gone, they need to make more of an effort to visit you more than once a year. If their hesitancy is because your house isn’t comfortable, suggest they stay at a nearby hotel or motel.
P.S. If your mother gets lonely between visits, she can always video chat, as countless other grandparents do today.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.