DEAR ABBY: Is it OK for two brothers (in the range of 40 years old) to sleep in the same bed? My husband says he is very close to his family. I sleep alone in our bed almost every night because my husband falls asleep on the couch a lot watching TV.
He and his brother were watching a ball game together the other night in his brother's room. (Unfortunately, he lives with us almost year-round.) They were on the bed and fell asleep there.
I should mention that their mother is very "touchy-feely" with them and often sits next to them, caressing her sons' inner thighs.
Where I grew up, this is considered inappropriate behavior. What is wrong with this picture? If I mention anything about this, my husband gets very angry, as he is the "controlling" type. -- FEELING ILL IN ILLINOIS
DEAR FEELING ILL: If your intuition is telling you that "something" is wrong, then you should listen and act upon it. What's clear from your letter is that you're unhappy and unsatisfied in your marriage, with good reason.
For a 40-year-old man to spend almost every night sleeping on the couch instead of with his wife is highly unusual, and the reason usually isn't that what's on television is so compelling he can't drag himself into the bedroom. You should consult a licensed family therapist pronto. And if your husband won't go with you, go without him.
DEAR ABBY: Occasionally you publish letters from readers discussing what they are grateful for. I have never seen one like mine. I am a woman in my early 50s, married 25 years, with no children.
I am grateful for excellent mental health. Until eight years ago, I suffered from manic depression. Other than my supportive husband, no one knew it. I held a job and, for the most part, functioned much like everyone else day-to-day. True, I may have lost a job or two because of it. Also true, it was a major factor in our deciding not to have children. I couldn't handle that responsibility when each day was a delicate dance between feeling all right or very sad and anxious.
Because of counseling and anti-depressants, my life is now wonderful. I am writing to urge anyone who thinks he or she might suffer from debilitating depression to seek help. There is nothing to be ashamed of about seeking help for mental illness. People wouldn't feel that way about consulting a doctor for a broken leg or diabetes. Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance.
I have been blessed with a kind, supportive spouse and a productive life. I wake up each morning grateful to be alive. Life is too short, so I hope your readers will take this letter to heart. -- GRATEFUL IN ILLINOIS
DEAR GRATEFUL: Sometimes the most important words in the English language can be among the most difficult to say. They are, "I need help." And yet, admitting it and reaching out are crucial to healing.
Every time I advise people to discuss emotional problems with their doctor, I am sure to hear from readers telling me they are without insurance or can't afford it. Counseling is available on a sliding fee scale through your county's mental health services, which are listed in the phone directory.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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