DEAR ABBY: For 35 years I have been married to the most manipulative, cunning, critical man ever born. "Homer" gets what he wants by using "helpful hints," offering "advice" and telling me "what's best," and sometimes even getting blue in the face and crying. He is very good at it, never quite overplaying his hand. He wears me down until I finally give in.
By using this technique, Homer has made sure that we live where he wants to live, vacation where he wants to go, drive the car he likes, and have even decorated our home in his preferred colors.
During the first years of our marriage, I gave in because I loved him. Later, I did it to avoid an argument. Now I do it out of habit. I loathe Homer for making me a doormat, and I loathe myself for allowing it to happen.
Homer will be retiring after the first of the year with a very nice annuity, which I feel I have earned, too. I have a small pension, but it's too small to live on my own. I don't know if I can bear Homer's company 24/7, but can I really start again at 65?
Everyone calls us the "perfect couple," but I am miserable and he is driving me closer to the door. I have often thought of just packing up and leaving. Can you help? -- SAD IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SAD: Since you know you can't bear your husband's company 24/7, consider some alternatives. One solution might be to volunteer your time to a worthy cause. According to AARP, research has proven that regular volunteering prolongs life expectancy and improves a person's physical and psychological well-being. In your case, it is essential.
The National Senior Service Corps specializes in placing older volunteers in volunteer assignments in their communities. Three national programs under the NSSC umbrella are the Foster Grandparent Program, the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program -- a "one-stop shopping" for senior volunteers. To find out what's available in your community, call (800) 424-8867, or search online at: joinseniorservice.org.
As to your not having enough money to live on your own, volunteers are sometimes hired for full-time positions -- and that would mean your economic situation could change for the better. Please consider volunteering, because it could serve a dual purpose and save your sanity.