Husband prioritizes blood family over wife

Dear Annie: I have been married now for just over three decades to who I thought was the love of my life. For years, I have noticed that my husband regards his birth family to be No. 1 and our immediate family No. 2.

He was hooked on his beautiful and caring mom until she was tragically taken back home to rest with our Lord. Now it seems that his wonderful sister has become like his mom.

He discusses EVERYTHING with her. As you can tell from my letter, I absolutely adore my in-laws, and I do not mind sharing the ups and downs of my birth family with them, but on my own time, not my husband’s. When I brought this up to him, he got very indignant. I thought that I had brought up the subject to him in a very caring way. No, it was horrible.

I have been very patient with him over the years through his addictions and ailments. I have stuck by his side. Now he’s been unemployed for over a year. Although he picks up all the slack at home, which is something I really appreciate, I can no longer sleep next to him in good conscience. I know that we could use a good therapist, but what I really want to know is if it’s time to throw in the towel. — Last to Know in Maryland

Dear Last to Know: After three decades together, feeling like a secondary priority in your husband’s life must be particularly painful and isolating.

Given your husband’s current unemployment and previous struggles, it’s possible that his leaning on his sister represents a search for stability or escape rather than a deliberate neglect of your relationship. However, he should still be making room for you in the same ways he does for his sister, and did for his mother before her.

Before deciding to throw in the towel, I would strongly recommend, as you mentioned, exploring therapy. If therapy is not an option or doesn’t lead to improvement, then it might be time to consider more serious changes. Whatever decision you make, be sure it is one that puts your emotional and mental well-being as top priorities. You deserve to feel valued and central in your marriage.

Dear Annie: I’m writing in response to “Protective of Pets,” the woman whose husband shows great disdain for her dogs but somewhat tolerates the animals their granddaughter brings around.

She said her husband “allows her” to have only one pet inside. Allows her? This sounds like a marriage where she cooks, cleans and does the majority of the family’s emotional and social business. I am sure she is working more than 40 hours each week and the house is likely equally her domain, so she should decide the rules.

I deeply regret my early years of marriage when my husband declared, “I don’t want a dog in the house,” and my dog lived outside for two years. I am sure this shortened my pup’s life.

“Protective” needs to stand up and advocate for her pets as it is her home as well. She needs to fight the patriarchy in this situation and get what she needs emotionally on a daily basis, which sounds like her dog as a companion and not her husband. — Up With Pets, Down With Patriarchy

Dear Up With Pets: I agree it’s very likely that this woman’s husband is controlling in more ways than just this one, which can only be putting more of a strain on their marriage. Couples counseling, if possible, would be the best next step.

And as much as “Protective” loves her pets, the life they have been subjected to — living outside — is an unfair one. Many other readers suggested rehoming these dogs to families who can love and care for them in the way they deserve. I wholeheartedly echo them.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now. Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Go to http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.


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