Dear Abby: I have been married for 30 years and live a happy life. Since my wife recently retired, her hobby of crossword puzzles has become an obsession. She does this all day long, whether we’re watching TV, talking, or eating. When we go out, she’ll take the crossword puzzle with her and do it, or do it on her phone. When our kids come to visit, she ignores them and does the crossword puzzle. During last year’s holiday celebrations, she sat staring at the crossword puzzle on her phone, not engaging in family interaction. If she were my child, I would take her phone away. But she’s an adult and my wife, so I can’t do that. Before she retired, she did crossword puzzles two or three times a week and we had a lot of fun together. Now I’m completely ignored. I talked to her about my feelings. Not helpful, so hoping to get some good advice from you. — confused husband
Dear Confused: Talk to your wife again. Tell her you no longer want to be ignored while she’s obsessed with crossword puzzles. What she did was unfair to you and your family. It is recommended that you two consult with a licensed marriage and family therapist. If she says no, schedule some meetings for yourself. From what you describe, your marriage is in trouble and your wife is using her crossword puzzles to escape the real world.
Dear Abby: I’ve lived in my apartment for nine years. When I moved in, I met a woman who moved in around the same time. We became friendly and I enjoyed talking to her at the pool and in the mailbox—until I got to know her better. Her attitude alienated all the other neighbors and children in the building. Although she claims to “mind her own business and keep to herself,” she still interjects and asks personal questions. Abby, I was raised to be tolerant and understanding. I’ve contacted her, taken her to the store and medical appointments, but then she freaked out, swore and asked me to speed up, take her to the thrift store, etc. She asked me why I didn’t take the highway instead of taking the surface streets where the highway has traffic lights.
I eventually stopped taking her place, but now she started coming into my apartment, sitting down and asking me questions. She also gets angry when she sees I don’t take her to the store. How do I politely but firmly tell her to leave me alone and that I want nothing to do with her anymore? She makes me anxious and drives me crazy. I know she’s lonely, but she’s a difficult person to live with. — doormat man on the west side
Dear doormat people: If you know someone is going to walk into your apartment uninvited, for the love of God, lock your door! If this neighbor rings the doorbell or knocks on the door, tell her you are busy and cannot entertain her, and then close the door.If she corners you and complains that you didn’t take her to the store, tell her in plain English Why You stop doing that. That said, I think pointing out other reasons why she made herself a social pariah would be more harmful than helpful.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren (aka Jeanne Phillips) and founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Please contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.