Dear Annie: My husband has cancer and is in the last stages of the disease. We have been married 37 years, and I try to do all I can to make him comfortable. It doesn't seem to matter. Everything I do displeases him. He simply doesn't want me here. My husband never has a conversation with me. He stays in the bedroom all day and either reads or sleeps. It's as if he wants me to be miserable, too.
My husband has always been a caring person, but he has become distant and silent. I wish I could undo his disease and bring back the man he was. I barely know him now, and although it may sound terrible, I truly don't want to be around him any longer. My life has become unbearable. Please don't tell me to get counseling. I have no insurance and cannot afford it. Any other suggestions? We Live in Texas
Dear Texas: Your husband is understandably depressed, and you are under tremendous strain as well. But he needs you now. There are some wonderful support organizations for those with cancer and their caregivers. Please contact the American Cancer Society, 1599 Clifton Road, N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30329, (800) ACS-2345 (800-227-2345) (www.cancer.org) or the Association of Cancer Online Resources at www.acor.org.
Dear Annie: My boyfriend, "Donald," won't sleep with me, and I mean sleep. Sex is not a problem. In fact, it's great. But when it's time for bed, Donald walks over to the sofa and plumps up the pillow. It really bothers me. By the way, Donald is 51, and I am 35.
At first I thought I snored, kicked or stole the covers, but when I asked him, he insisted it has nothing to do with me. He said he simply is accustomed to sleeping alone. In the 20 years he was married, he traveled a lot on business and was only home four or five days a month. When he changed jobs, he worked days, and his ex-wife worked nights. They apparently never went to bed at the same time.
Donald says of all the faults to be upset about, I sure picked a small one, and he can't figure out why I am making such an issue of it. Is there any way for him to understand that my desire to share a bed each night is not so unusual? Except for this one problem, Donald makes me happier than I have ever been. Am I being selfish to want him to fall asleep next to me at night? Sleeping Solo in California
Dear Solo: You are not being selfish, but it's obvious Donald is more comfortable having his own sleeping space. It would require a major effort for him to adjust to sleeping with another person. Nonetheless, it's worth a try.
Can you afford to invest in a king-sized bed or a set of twins? Can you pull the sofa into the bedroom? Ask Donald to try some behavior modification, as a favor to you. If he sleeps in the same room with you every night for one month, he might get used to it. If it works, try sleeping in the same bed. If he is not willing to try, or if the experiment fails, you must decide how important this is to you. If the rest of your relationship is solid, this should not be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Dear Annie: My friend and his wife are divorcing after only two months of marriage. They received several expensive wedding gifts, which have not yet been used. My friend thinks they should return the gifts, given that the marriage was so short-lived, but his soon-to-be ex thinks otherwise. I say they should be returned. Weren't they intended for the couple to enjoy together? Curious About Etiquette
Dear Curious: Regardless of the length of the marriage, the couple keeps the gifts. (If the wedding were canceled, the gifts would be returned.)
XE-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.