Conversation and counseling could cause change

Dear Annie: I am 62 and have been married for three years to “Ken,” who is 68. We’re both retired.

When I met him, Ken was very kind. There were flowers and gifts for no reason at all. We took trips and enjoyed life. Once we married, however, it seemed there was nothing I could do to make him happy. I keep a clean house. I weigh only 130 pounds. I enjoy having sex, but Ken will not touch me. He won’t take me anyplace. He has very little to say. He tells me I’m no longer appealing to him.

For several months, Ken has been attending counseling sessions for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (He served two tours in Vietnam.) He has never discussed these sessions with me, but yesterday I found some notes he’s been keeping. It appears that while in Vietnam, Ken was aroused by having sex with young girls and spent all his extra money on them. That was one of the reasons he went back for another tour.

According to his notes, I am not his second wife, as I thought, but his fourth. None of the marriages lasted long. When he was 59, he briefly was married to a girl of 22. He wrote that he continues to flirt with young women because they excite him, and that he married me because his health is failing and as he gets older the young women are harder to attract, even with his money.

I haven’t told Ken that I saw his notes. What do I do? I’m ready to walk out, but I sold my house when we got married and have no place to go. Alone in the Ohio Valley

Dear Ohio Valley: The fact that Ken is getting counseling is a positive sign. Tell him you saw the notes and, although you are disappointed he lied, it is encouraging that he is seeking help. An honest conversation between the two of you could be eye-opening and useful, as long as you don’t let your anger and fear get the better of you. If nothing productive comes of it and there is no change in Ken’s behavior, it’s time to talk to an attorney.

Dear Annie: Ever since I asked my sister, “Vera,” to drive me to an upcoming surgery appointment, she’s been pestering me for access to my doctor so she can question him about my health and stop him from doing the surgery.

I told Vera that my doctor refuses to talk to her. She doesn’t believe me, but it’s the truth. He can’t talk to anyone about my medical status. Now she won’t speak to me. I have begged her to forgive me, but haven’t heard a word either by phone or e-mail. She means a lot to me. I need her in my life, and I’ve told her that several times. Please advise. Bereft Sister

Dear Sister: It sounds as if Vera has been bossing you around for a long time and doesn’t like being denied the opportunity to keep doing it. If you want Vera to consult your doctor, you can give him permission to discuss your status with her. If you think her concern is intrusive, say nothing more. We suspect Vera will eventually come around, although she wants to punish you a bit first.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Disappointed and Furious,” whose dentist berated him for not having more costly dental care done. I found out through friends who likewise could not afford regular dental care that I should look into local colleges that have dental schools. I found one here in Southern California and was given free checkups and X-rays. I had cleanings done and cavities filled — all for free — and eventually bridge work and oral surgery, both of which were less expensive than having it done by a regular dentist. No one should have a dentist who wants to make a living out of your mouth. Charles in Glendora, Calif.

Dear Charles: Several readers wanted “Disappointed” to know that dental schools are often a good way to find affordable dental care. Our thanks to all who wrote.

X E-mail your questions to or write to: Annie’s Mailbox‚Ñ¢, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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