DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married for 30 years. Since my wife recently retired, her crossword hobby has become an obsession. She does them all day, whether we are watching TV, talking or eating meals.
When we go out, she carries crossword puzzles to do or does them on her phone. When our kids visit, she ignores them and does crossword puzzles. During the last holiday celebrations, she sat staring at her phone crosswords instead of participating in family interactions.
If she were my child, I would take away her phone. But she’s an adult and my wife, so I can’t do that.
Before she retired, she did crossword puzzles two or three times a week, and we had fun doing them together. Now I am completely ignored.
I have talked to her about my feelings. It didn’t help, so I’m hoping to get some good advice from you.
— PUZZLED HUSBAND
DEAR PUZZLED: Talk to your wife again. Tell her you no longer are willing to be ignored while she indulges in her obsession with crossword puzzles.
What she’s doing is unfair to you and the family. Suggest the two of you consult a licensed marriage and family therapist. If she refuses, schedule some sessions for yourself.
From what you have described, your marriage is in trouble, and your wife is using her crossword puzzles to escape from the real world.
DEAR ABBY: I have lived in my apartment for nine years. When I moved in, I met a woman who moved in about the same time. We became friendly, and I enjoyed talking to her at the pool and mailbox — until I got to know her better.
She has alienated all the other neighbors and kids in the complex with her attitude. She butts into conversations and asks personal questions, despite claiming to “mind her business and keep to herself.”
Abby, I was raised to be forgiving and understanding. I have reached out to her and taken her to the store and medical appointments, but then she freaks out, swears and demands that I speed up, take her to thrift stores, etc. She asks why I don’t take the freeway instead of surface streets with traffic lights.
I finally quit taking her places, but now she has started walking into my apartment, sitting down and asking me questions. She also gets mad when she sees I went to the store without her.
How do I politely, but firmly, tell her to leave me alone and I no longer want to have anything to do with her? She makes me anxious and drives me crazy. I understand she’s lonely, but she’s a miserable person to be around.
— DOORMAT GUY OUT WEST
DEAR DOORMAT GUY: If you know someone will walk into your apartment uninvited, for heaven’s sake, lock your door!
If this neighbor rings the bell or knocks, tell her you are busy and cannot entertain her and shut the door. If she corners you and rants about you having gone to the store without her, tell her in plain English WHY you stopped doing it.
That said, I think it would be more hurtful than helpful to point out the other reasons she has made herself a social pariah.
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.