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by Abigail Van Buren

Marriage Crumbling as Couple's Communication Becomes Bitter

DEAR ABBY: My husband barely speaks to me. We both work full time and are facing the empty nest very soon. At home, I have to initiate even the smallest of small talk. He'll never say "Good morning" or ask "How was your day?" Although I work hard to keep the house the way he likes it, he speaks up only to criticize the few times I don't meet his standards. There's never a word of acknowledgment when I have accomplished other elements of housekeeping.

When I laugh at the Sunday comics, he doesn't even ask what's funny. As a result, I have become defensive. Then he accuses me of being "dismissive of his feelings." He says I don't communicate with him, but when I do, he barely responds, so over the years I have basically shut down. We have been to counseling, and maybe it's time to go again. Do you have any perspective to offer? -- UNACKNOWLEDGED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNACKNOWLEDGED: It is definitely the right move to return to counseling. But when you do, this time speak up for yourself loud and clear. If you do, it may change the dynamics of your relationship because when he accuses you of not communicating, he is blaming the victim. Once you have said your piece, let the marriage and family therapist mediate what is certain to be a long-overdue discussion.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce