Dear Abby: My angry husband always complains, seldom goes out

Wife doesn’t feel she can leave the man, who has been out of work for years, can barely hear and avoids friends and family.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 40 years. When I married “Hugh,” I thought he was the nicest man I had ever met. We have two grown children of whom we are both very proud. Hugh was laid off 19 years ago and said he was going to take “a little time off.” Abby, he has never gone back to work.

I retired four years ago and got a little part-time job in a local shop in town. I do the housework, and our neighbor does our yard. Hugh goes to the grocery store, and that’s the only time he leaves the house. We haven’t been out to dinner in five years. He doesn’t go to family gatherings, hasn’t seen a friend in years and is always angry. No matter what I say, I get screamed at or thrown a death stare.

My husband has suffered hearing loss, which I am sure is frustrating, but he refuses to get a hearing aid and is always mad because he can’t hear me or any conversation. We can’t have a rational discussion because I have to raise my voice for him to hear me, and then he accuses me of yelling and walks away.

We are too tied up financially and emotionally for me to leave, and I have nowhere else to go. I don’t know how to get through to him that blaming me for his problems is unjustified and undeserved. Any advice? — BLEAK VIEW IN TEXAS

DEAR BLEAK VIEW: You do not have to tolerate being verbally abused. Because you are unwilling or unable to leave, the next best thing would be to start leading your own life as much as possible. Stop enabling your husband to the extent you have been. He won’t like it, but do not allow him to make it your problem. Talk to an attorney about separating your finances if it’s possible. Continue working, socialize separately and make as happy a life for yourself as you can.

DEAR ABBY: I thought I was friends with “Connie,” but with what has been happening lately, she’s obviously not my friend. She says she’s depressed, which does concern me, but she is using it to get me to take her to doctor’s appointments and to the store, even when it greatly interferes with my schedule. She expects me to cancel my own appointments to accommodate her and gets angry and dramatic when I tell her I can’t.

It’s very stressful. I used to care about her, but I can no longer take her abusive and disrespectful behavior. I’m thinking of ending this so-called friendship. What do you think I should do? — USED IN MARYLAND

DEAR USED: Connie may be depressed. She may also be self-centered and endlessly needy. It’s time to tell her calmly how you feel about what is happening, make clear that you have responsibilities in your own life that you no longer want to sacrifice and suggest that if she values the friendship, she should make other arrangements for transportation. If she can accept that, remain friendly with her but not at her beck and call. If she cannot accept it, your problem will be solved.

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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