Dear Abby: Marriage’s flaws become more obvious now that son is grown

The couple has few interests in common, and the husband rarely is interested in doing things together.

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DEAR ABBY: I’m married to a great husband. We worked well together in our business. He’s loyal and dependable, and was a great stepfather when my son was young, etc.

When we were younger, we were always very busy working on the house, raising a family and starting a small business. My son is now grown and has moved away, the house needs little work, we no longer have the business and we both work part-time.

The problem is, we don’t have the same interests. I do a lot alone or with friends, but many of them have moved or become very settled down. I rarely have anyone to do anything with unless it’s something that interests my husband. It’s hard to get him to do anything I want to do. He either complains or refuses.

Looking back, I think he was always like this, but we were too busy to notice. I feel very alone now. I feel like time is ticking by, and I’m wasting my life, my time, etc. Many days I think I should leave, but leaving would change our lifestyle dramatically. Sometimes I feel we only stay together for the lifestyle. I have tried to talk to him about this many times, but I get nowhere. Suggestions? — TIME TICKS BY IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR TIME TICKS BY: You feel alone and adrift because you are. The glue that held your marriage together seems to have been your son, who is now grown and has moved away. It’s time to ask yourself how important your “lifestyle” is.

It’s possible that if you remain in this marriage, you can find what you are looking for by becoming more independent. Travel, join special interest clubs, cultivate new friends, take classes that interest you and live your life. You might also visit meetup.com to get involved in activities in your area with like-minded people.

There is no guarantee your husband will ever be the partner you fantasize he should be. Some sessions with a therapist might be useful to help you clarify your thinking, and that’s what I’m suggesting.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old who wants to be an individual. My 10-year-old brother constantly copies me and mocks me, yet he gets upset whenever I point it out. The last straw was when I went through his YouTube and found almost all of the same music I like.

My parents always say I should be flattered, or he’s just looking up to me. I am tired of it! He copies the things I say (and the way I say them), the music I like and my hobbies. It’s very, very annoying, and I guarantee that is why he continues to do it.

I’ve tried telling him to stop, but somehow, in any conversation relating to that, I end up being the bad guy. Should I just throw away my entire collection of interests, enjoyments and hobbies? — LOSING MY INDIVIDUALITY

DEAR LOSING: On the contrary. Accept that because you are older, you may always be the leader, and your younger brother will continue to follow you and mimic you. He may not do it to annoy you but because he lacks your imagination and interests of his own. Your mistake is letting what he does affect you. The sooner you overcome that impulse, the better off you will be. You may not be able to control your brother, but you can control the way you react to him, and that’s a skill that will serve you well as you go through life.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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