Dear Amy: For almost 30 years, I’ve been married to an eloquent, thoughtful writer whose every written word is carefully chosen. He turns mundane subjects into interesting reads.
He’s smart and funny; he’s a great person, husband, and father.
Before Christmas, he asked what I wanted. I said that more than anything, I wanted him to write down his feelings for me.
For a writer accustomed to evoking warmth and passion, I thought this would be a small task (and free).
Oddly, he pushed back. I backed off. For Christmas he gave me a card with the website address written on it for planning a vacation.
Amy, I’m hurt.
I’ve come across mini-novels that he wrote back in the day about ex-loves; or lovely things he’s written to extended family members.
I adore him and bend over backward to show him how much I love him.
I don’t ask for or expect a lot, but now I feel dejected.
Recently I asked him to take out the word “love” and tell me how he feels about me. He went on about what a fun evening we’d had together.
I’m glad he had a great evening, but he could have just as easily said this about walking the dog or going out with his friends. This lack of being able to express feelings for me led to an ugly argument.
I cannot understand. I know that he loves me, but this makes me feel like I’m not the love of his life. I would like an explanation.
I’ve tried and failed to let this go. How should I deal with this? – Seriously Hurting
Dear Hurting: Let me try to describe the dynamic of being a writer and getting an emotionally loaded assignment: Even reading your (reasonable) request for your husband to creatively express his love for you gives me writer-hives.
I suspect that he has creative paralysis brought on by perfectionism, combined with a measure of passive-aggression. He is not going to give you the thing you expressly ask for, as long as you ask for it in such a specific way.
Furthermore, when he did try to complete an assignment for you, you didn’t like it enough. “Yikes,” he thinks. “I’m being edited!”
You and your husband have been together – mainly happily – for 30 years. Must he prove his love for you, without using the word “love”?
If you let up on your “asks” – way, way up – he might be inspired to surprise you. He might not. Either way, you get to be with a good man, husband, and father who is also a gifted writer with a deep flaw: Words sometimes fail him. I hope you can forgive him for that.
Dear Amy: The other day, I was waiting at the service desk in a store.
The woman behind me in line was chatting with me, basically flirting with me.
During the course of this flirtation, she kept touching me.
Personally, I don’t care. Sure, maybe I was even flattered.
BUT, if I touched HER the way she was touching me, we’d be in trouble.
What do you think about this double standard? – Wondering Guy
Dear Wondering: You don’t mention how (or where) this woman was touching you, but yes – many people (women and men) do not want to be touched by strangers. Others don’t seem to mind it.
If men and women were on a level field, this would qualify as a double standard. But women who don’t want to be touched by strangers sometimes feel intimidated by the size differential (with men). Women are also affected by social conventions regarding expressing their preferences and having their preferences respected. Unfortunately, saying “no” sometimes seems to invite an escalation, rather than a respectful retreat.
The important thing is to learn to read basic social cues and body language, and to actually listen to people when they indicate that they don’t like something you are doing that personally affects them.
Dear Amy: I was very upset by your flawed advice to “Young Widow in NY,” who said she had been stuck with an exorbitant funeral bill.
Did she even sign a contract? You should have suggested that she see a lawyer!
Dear Upset: Hundreds of people contacted me with similar feedback.
Because “Young Widow” reported that she was responsible for this large bill, I assumed that she had signed a contract. I should not have made this assumption and – yes – before taking responsibility for this debt, she should definitely seek legal advice.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: email@example.com. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.