Dear Annie

Husband isolates and abuses her

Dear Annie: I have been married for almost 40 years. We have two beautiful children, who have happy lives and careers and families. My husband is highly successful and respected in his profession. He’s hardworking and a loving grandfather. But over the years, he has frequently been verbally, emotionally and, at times, physically abusive.

He does not like my family and resists my efforts to get together with them. He just wants to stay home and do his own things. He talks very little to me, except to tell me what to do or point out what I have done wrong. I look ahead to the next 20 years with this man with great sadness because of his desire to isolate us and limit our access to other people — even family.

I want to end my marriage, but I wonder if this is the right thing to do to our family in the long term. However, my children would understand, as they have witnessed their father’s behavior over the years. Would a divorce just be a selfish act on my part. I have been seeing a therapist over the years about my marriage. I am just wondering what your advice would be. I admire your insight always.

— Conflicted and Anguished

Dear Conflicted and Anguished: Abuse — physical, verbal or emotional — is never acceptable, and it is not OK for your husband to isolate you from your family and friends. His refusal to see them should not prevent you from seeing them. You can travel alone and see friends without him.

It is commendable that you have been seeing a therapist, and your balanced perspective is one of the results. In the interest of leaving no stone unturned, consider seeking marriage counseling with him. This would give you a safe place to tell him what you love about him and what you don’t. Ideally, these sessions would help your husband recognize his toxic behavior and put an end to it. If he doesn’t, they would at least help you decide what to do next.

Dear Annie: I have a new co-worker adjacent to me whose constant sighing is putting me on edge. I hear her sighing throughout the day and occasionally whispering swear words. I get secondhand stress from it. I tried headphones, but I have to keep the volume low because it’s a quiet office. Any tips for how to handle this?

— Nervous Desk Neighbor

Dear Nervous Desk Neighbor: Your new neighbor probably doesn’t realize how vocal she’s being. Bring her attention to it by gently asking, “Is everything OK?” If she asks what you mean, explain that she seems upset or frustrated. Additionally, seeing as she’s new, you might invite her out to lunch to get to know her better. Once you two have talked more, you’ll most likely be less bothered by her talking to herself.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.