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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Gets the Silent Treatment Without Knowing Reason Why

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married more than 20 years. Once in a while, he'll stop being affectionate and ceases talking to me. Obviously, he is upset. He holds it together for our children, but I get the serious cold shoulder.

He won't tell me why he is unhappy. He simply expects me to give him "space." This is difficult because I assume it's something I have done, and I want to make it right. After several days, he'll start coming around and talking to me again, and he expects me to jump right back into our usual behavior. But by this time I feel abandoned and resentful.

It generally takes me some time to warm back up to him, which doesn't make him very happy since he doesn't see anything wrong with his needing space. I realize that's true, but should I be expected to put aside my hurt feelings overnight? How can I deal with these difficult days so I won't feel so alone and get upset with him? And what should I do when he expects me to bounce right back? -- TIED IN KNOTS IN TEXAS

DEAR TIED IN KNOTS: You're in a long marriage. Has your husband always behaved this way? Talk to him about it at a time when he's himself and not in one of his silent phases.

As you should be aware by now, not all men are good at expressing their feelings. Rather than become upset with him, ask if he is upset with you. If the answer is no, believe him and give him his space. It would be considerate (and mature) of him, however, to warn you when he's upset about something that has nothing to do with you, without prompting.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce