Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 26 years. I’m 19 years younger than he is. We are civic-minded and devoted to family, hobbies and taking care of our mental and physical fitness. We renovated our second home together and lived there for 18 years, but we talked about moving from there for a decade, as there were some flaws with the design of that house.
In recent months, we purchased a wonderful place with a comfortable setting and great neighbors. Our current place has the grounds and privacy we adore and a homeowners association to help with maintaining it. We are still getting settled, but I am delighted so far. I’ve entertained a few times at the new place, and my friends have raved about how inviting the house is.
My husband, on the other hand, is quite negative about it. He abhors change. (He didn’t even want to get married until age 50 because he was reluctant to change his lifestyle.) He is very conservative. He loved the formality of our previous house. He agreed to move, though. I’ve tried discussing this with him, but he fails to see how hurtful his negativity is.
He has a family home in another state, a house in which no one resides. For about 10 years now, since his mother passed, he’s been driving to the house once a month to maintain the property. It’s about five hours away. He’s never considered how his monthly trips to care for it while I maintain our residence in our town affect me, saying our property isn’t a priority for him.
I have been patient and kind with my husband, as I realize moving is a stress. I know I am blessed in a time when so many suffer from the ills of society, the wrath of Mother Nature, health issues and so on.
— Giving It Time
Dear Giving It Time: Keep the conversation between you and your husband going. Ask him to be specific about what he dislikes about the new arrangement. Perhaps the frequent guests are a source of stress. If he can’t give a reason, you can give him a request — that he see a counselor to help cope with change.
Dear Annie: A member of my family, “Gabby,” has become extreme in her beliefs. She has so many positive qualities to her character, but this obsession is eclipsing everything else about her. She thinks that we should all believe strongly in her causes and actively advocate them alongside her. If not, she regards us as morally wrong, and an argument or lecture ensues. Reasoning does not seem to help. Where does this attitude come from? I know we are not the only family trying to cope with this right now.
— New Radical Getting Old
Dear New Radical Getting Old: The attitude probably comes from a true desire to do good, so try to appreciate that intention, even when you find her tactics grating. Remember that it takes two to tiff. Use prevention and deflection to avoid arguments. If she starts in on a lecture, politely tell her that you respect her passion, and then redirect the conversation to apolitical subjects. (It might help to mentally prepare a list of these in advance.) Refuse to meet her on the debate stage and she will eventually — let’s hope — get tired of talking to herself.