Dear Abby: Lonely husband gives more than wife gives him

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My wife and I married in our early 40s. I have given my all to her, but I have always felt underappreciated.

I always wanted to be a father, but she didn’t want to have kids. After we were together for a few years, she changed her mind, so we decided to try for a child and were surprised to discover after only a week of trying that we were pregnant. A few months ago, we were blessed with our beautiful, healthy daughter.

My wife had difficulty with breastfeeding, so she decided to stop and solely bottle-feed. I have been supportive of her decision, but she still feels sad and guilty about it. I have done all I can to encourage and comfort her, but she just brushes me off.

I love my wife with all that I am, but I don’t feel loved in return. Since we started dating, she has always called me “Babe.” Now she calls me by my first name. I tell her I love her every day, but she hasn’t said it back since the baby was born. She also doesn’t say goodnight when she goes to bed.

We haven’t kissed in almost two months. I receive no affection from her; she never even touches me. I don’t care about not having sex, but she won’t even touch my arm or try to hold my hand. I feel alone and lonely in my own home. What can I do to change things?

— Heartsick Husband

Dear Husband: Tell your wife what you have written. She may be feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from taking care of a brand-new baby, or suffer from a common condition called postpartum depression. (It’s sometimes referred to as the “baby blues” for a reason.) Urge her to discuss how she has been feeling with her OB/GYN because, with medical help, the condition is treatable. Please don’t wait because the sooner this is dealt with, the better it will be for all three of you.

Dear Abby: I recently housesat for a friend and her family while they were on vacation because they needed someone to water their plants and take out their dog. Cleaning is a favorite pastime of mine, so while I was there, I did some tidying up. I did not enter any of their bedrooms and only did small tasks such as vacuum and mop the common areas. I genuinely thought I was being considerate by going above and beyond.

When they returned, they seemed shocked and even slightly offended, and made jokes about how I must think they are messy. At the time, it seemed fine, but I understand now it may have been misinterpreted.

Did I cross a boundary, and should I avoid doing this in the future? How should I apologize? I feel terrible for offending them.

— Cleaning’s My Thing

Dear C.M.T.: Stop beating yourself up and ASK your friend if she was offended that you mopped and dusted while you were housesitting. If the answer is yes, apologize. And when you do, explain that you are somewhat of a “neatnik” and thought they would be pleased to come home and find fewer chores needing to be done. If she’s truly offended, you won’t be asked to housesit again, but I have a strong hunch you will be.

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