Dear Readers: Following are end-of-year thoughts, feedbacks, ongoing peeves:
Feedback regarding the wife who thought her nurturing, house-cleaning husband might be gay (Dec. 8):
Reader: “Being gay is not environmental, it is genetic. One can be left-handed, right-handed, or like Einstein, ambidextrous.
“One can be heterosexual, gay/lesbian or bisexual. Homosexuality is not caused by being an only child or having a single mom.
“The husband might just be obsessive compulsive. A good friend of mine is very obsessive compulsive and his home always looks like Better Homes and Gardens. I know he is not gay.
“Another good friend is one of two sons. His brother is gay. My friend does housework and cooks amazing dinners. His wife told me her husband is not gay. I’m also somewhat obsessive compulsive and do ironing, scrub pots and pans and bake angel food cake (more with pandemic) and I’m not gay.
“Perhaps the confused spouse has to ask or figure out what gets, or has previously gotten, her husband passionate. Is it a relaxing evening out with a babysitter at home, or sexy lingerie, cuddling and champagne? Something is and will be his “hot button.” He may not even know his hot buttons.
“Perhaps fatigue is a factor. Does he work 50 hours per week, go to fitness, run in the park, or just do cleaning?
“The perplexed wife might consider hiring a cleaning service periodically to do the heavy cleaning so both spouses aren’t tired from scrubbing floors. That sends a message e.g. ‘I value you for being my spouse and lover, not for your household skills.’ ”
Dear Ellie: My friend and I have been besties for 40 years. We got along great when we both were working, with lots to talk about. We enjoyed get-togethers whenever we could.
She retired a few years before me. Having lost my partner six years ago, I continued to work. We still had things to talk about.
However, I never had children while she has children and grandchildren. We’re drifting further and further apart.
Her only topic of conversation is about her granddaughter and her husband’s chronic health condition.
I feel we just have nothing in common anymore. But I don’t want to lose her friendship.
How can I inform her that these topics aren’t what I care to listen to anymore?
There is no way to tell someone — particularly a long-time friend — that the two people whom she most cares about, including at least one who impacts her daily life — are of no interest to you.
You can give her a book you’ve read with the hopeful intent to talk about it, recommend movies you’ve streamed recently, or remind her of old favourites worth talking about … but you cannot say you don’t want to hear about people she loves and worries about, without losing any chance at staying connected.
Try a positive approach instead. Ask her first thing how her husband is feeling. Listen a short while, then ask about her granddaughter. After a decent show of interest, raise the topics you care to discuss.
Also consider finding an activity you two could enjoy together, e.g., bridge or some other card game, or Scrabble and other word games which you can play online together.
If none of that creates other conversations between you two, then the friendship likely has become as uninteresting to her as it is to you.
Reader’s commentary regarding young children hearing their father badmouthed by their maternal grandfather (Dec. 3):
“I’d ensure the mother or a lawyer familiar with these sorts of cases of parental alienation orders that he stop, or the children won’t be allowed to see their grandfather anymore.
“Also, the Children’s Aid Society can be notified. It’s toxic abuse, extremely harmful to the children. (If the father’s abusive or a bad parent, that’s a different scenario).
“No grandmother or grandfather, on either side of the family should badmouth the father/mother of grandchildren, EVER. “Being part of a family, divorced or intact, means you pay attention to each other’s feelings.
“When there’s a divorce, Grandfather’s badmouthing places another “I-feel-torn-apart” burden on the children who are already struggling with the loss of their intact home, a move to another house, maybe a new neighbourhood and a new school. This needs to be stopped immediately.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Questioning a husband’s sexual identity may reflect the wife’s own insecurity about why his lovemaking, though regular, lacks enough passion for her.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.