DEAR AMY: Sometimes people write to you because they can’t cope with their grief. I have the opposite problem. My wife of 43 years died of cancer three years ago, and I still don’t feel that I have had the appropriate reaction.
I went to a shrink last year because I thought I should have been crying or something. I was given homework to get rid of her clothes. I did get teary-eyed when I saw the dress she wore when we eloped, but I never broke down and cried or got inconsolable.
I started meeting women for coffee from online dating sites about a year after my wife died. I even had sex with a few. I still think I should have been sadder after my wife’s death — we were married for 43 years and had two children together.
The doctor also prescribed some medication for me because I told him I slept too much (like any time I wasn’t working). Have you ever heard of this type of problem? Am I just cold? -- Cold
DEAR COLD: I don’t know if I would call you “cold,” although you do seem emotionally muted. Your oversleeping is a common sign of depression. Your physician and therapist should offer remedies that lead you toward insight, not just medication.
If you were with your wife as she endured a lingering illness, I assume you grieved before her death. But the thing about loss is that there is no “right” way to express it. All we have to guide us is what we think of as the norm. I assume that your reaction is more common than you know and that there are a lot of people like you who are baffled by the lack of tears.
My hope for you would be to focus less on trying to force some tears (and thinking there is something wrong with you when you don’t cry), and more on appreciating your very long marriage — and moving forward with an optimistic attitude about the future.
DEAR AMY: I recently found out one of my “best friends” has been propositioning my wife. My wife is very good friends with his wife, and we used to socialize a lot as couples. My wife said no to the propositions but did not want to jeopardize all of our intertwined relationships.
I think she used the reasons: “What about his wife? What about me?” She didn’t say, “No because I don’t want to” because it would have made him feel rejected.
She kept getting advances by e-mail, text, phone calls, etc. for months, and my wife was too “nice” and did not put an absolute end to it. She tried to just keep things “normal” by semi-ignoring it, but communicating with him.
I found out by checking her cellphone. I understand I violated her privacy. She finally admitted it, then he found out and things have stopped. His wife does not know and the wives are still friends. I am not going to tell his wife, and I don’t want to talk to him.
Now things are screwed up in my relationship with my wife. Because I “don’t trust her” things here are tense, intimacy is almost nonexistent, and I don’t know how to turn things around. Was I wrong for snooping? -- Need Help
DEAR NEED: Yes, you were wrong for snooping. Furthermore, you don’t seem to approve of the way you assume your wife handled these advances. That does indicate a lack of trust on your part.
Show your commitment to working this out by acknowledging your breach. Then make an appointment with a marriage counselor so you can negotiate an emotional settlement together.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to “Bothered’s” letter. She loved her haircut but said the person’s station was filthy.
Hairdressers are licensed by the state in which they do business and are required to follow certain hygienic practices. If he doesn’t clean up his act, she should notify her local health department and the appropriate state regulatory agency. -- Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: “Bothered” wanted to continue going to this particular person, but I agree that if he doesn’t clean up, he should be reported.