Dear Abby: After 20 years together, I suddenly feel anger toward my husband

It’s a confusing new turn in a marriage where wife works hard to make the man feel cared for.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together 20 years, married for 12. We have weathered ex-spouses, step-parenting, nine military deployments between us, serious health issues and everyday normal life. My husband is an infinitely better person than I am, and I have always tried to care for him. We are in our early 40s and recently retired.

This year, our children will be out of the house, and we have bought a beautiful home in a dream location for the two of us to start our next adventure together. I love my husband, but over the last few years, almost everything he says makes me extremely angry or annoyed. I have never felt like this before in our relationship, and I don’t know why this is happening now. No one else makes me feel this way.

I don’t know where to start on addressing the problem. I have told my husband a little bit, and he says he feels like I no longer love him or need him. But, Abby, I do everything for him. I manage all our bills and finances. I cook three meals a day. I clean the house, the yard and the cars. I do everything he asks for if he needs help or assistance. I try to always be there if he needs to talk or vent. I stay in shape and available for him. I don’t know what else to do to make him feel loved and to make my anger go away. Please help. — MYSTIFIED IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR MYSTIFIED: I’m not sure your husband is “an infinitely better person” than you are. I wish you had mentioned one thing that he does to make YOU feel loved and needed, because from where I sit, you have been shouldering the entire load. Your anger and resentment may stem from your awakening to this fact. Those feelings may dissipate if you discuss them with a marriage and family therapist, preferably in the presence of your husband.

DEAR ABBY: I am 49. I grew up in a toxic, abusive household. My mother can’t drive. She’s broke and needs me. Up until the last few years, she has been a nightmare.

I’m a single mom of three children and I work A LOT. On weekends, I’d like to rest and try to have a social life, but my mother wants me to come nearly every Saturday to take her out and visit with the kids. She lives 45 minutes away and it’s an all-day endeavor.

I am going crazy. I have no social life, and I’d like to get remarried one day. Would it be selfish to visit only once a month? I need to focus more on myself and my needs. I don’t know what to do or what to suggest for my mother to do in my absence. — NO LIFE IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR NO LIFE: Remind your mother that you work hard all week and during the last few years you have sacrificed your personal time to be her chauffeur. Explain that you need time for yourself and can only visit her once a month.

Do not expect her to like it, but you MUST take time for yourself to unwind and have a social life. Advise her that there may be a senior center near her that provides the transportation she needs for activities. Then stand your ground.

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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