Dear Annie: My wife and I are both successful professionals and empty nesters who have a great marriage and a lot to be thankful for. What I am writing about might be more of a problem for me than my wife, so I’m reaching out to hear your advice.
My wife is continually being reached out to via mobile device with texts and calls from her three adult sisters and one of our daughters. These calls occur daily, any time of day, seven days a week and are almost always, “What are you doing?” calls. My wife’s a very busy woman with a lot of responsibility and works hard, sometimes seven days a week, sometimes 12- to 16-hour days (not continuously but enough for us to feel the weight). Her sisters and our daughter are all out of state and have a lot of time on their hands; other than our daughter, they’re all single.
In our marriage, it has become a “thing” where we are interrupted with significant frequency, day after day. There are very few days where we don’t have at least one (or more) meal, conversation, evening walk, etc. interrupted. My wife is a total sweetheart and doesn’t want to discourage the calls, but she also feels hounded and exasperated from it as they interrupt her work and our relationship. I’m patient so as not to add another problem to the mix for her, but she knows it drives me crazy, too. How can I help her? — Desperate for Downtime
Dear Desperate: Kudos for noticing how this overcommunication is overextending your wife and for wanting to help her make a change. Just because we can be reached basically 24/7 doesn’t mean we should be that available. It’s so important to find the balance between screen time and real life, and for your wife, this means setting boundaries and sticking to them.
The next time you two go for a walk, suggest she leave her phone at home. At mealtimes, turn both your cells to “Do Not Disturb” until after you’re finished eating. It doesn’t make your wife a bad sister or mother to miss a call and return it later when it’s more convenient. It might take her some time to adjust to the idea that she doesn’t need to be at anyone’s beck and (literal) call but start with these baby steps. She herself deserves the same time and attention that she gives to her loved ones.
Dear Annie: I have been with a man off and on for seven years. He is my best friend, and I can’t live without him. A few years ago, he stole my stimulus check of $1,200, and he brought other women home, claiming he was only doing business with them.
He doesn’t have a job. I’m paying all the bills by myself, and I’m struggling. I have my own apartment and my own car and a job. He has nothing. My friends and everyone are telling me he is using me. I don’t know what to believe. How do I know if he is true to me or not? He hides his cellphone. He has his family paying for all his needs. He is a 35-year-old man. Please give me advice or direction. — In Love but Unsure
Dear In Love but Unsure: He stole your money, he refuses to work, and he is unfaithful. You are 100% better off without him. Instead of focusing on your heartbreak in letting him go, think of how much you will gain. You will save money, you will protect your mental health, and you will open yourself up to new partners who love and respect you. Break up with him — immediately.
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