Husband's distance causes wife to wonder

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Chicago Tribune columnist Amy Dickinson and reporter Jenniffer Weigel cover Lebron James' tweet congratulating the Chicago Blackhawks' winning streak. Recorded live from the Chicago Tribune newsroom. March 7, 2013

Dear Amy: I am worried that my husband of 20 years is gay and will eventually divorce me. We have three children. We both want a stable family life, but I just can't help thinking that our lackluster marriage will eventually end.

I have no proof of any homosexual thoughts/actions, but my husband has been growing ever more distant over the years. I have voiced suspicions of his orientation at times (he has several gay family members), but he denies it.

Intimacy always has to be initiated by him, and it may only occur once or twice a month. We have been to marriage counseling, but we made no progress.

The main problem for me is the lack of affection or real devotion from him. It seems he prefers to avoid me by working late hours and always going to bed later than I do.

We both cope by pretending there are no issues but I am afraid he may jump the gun and divorce me. He is a hardworking, nice guy (to everyone) so he is not unbearable. I only work part time and cannot support myself at this time. Please tell me if there is something I should be doing.

— Worried Wife

Dear Wife: Questioning your husband's sexuality because he is distant from you will cause him to be defensive and will not yield a truthful answer.

You should try counseling again with a simple goal of honest and open communication (rather than forcing the larger issue). You would also benefit from counseling on your own.

The best way to secure your future is to be brave enough to stand independently. If you don't want your marriage to be the way it is, then challenge your husband to work with you to change it. If he refuses to make an effort, then you have a big decision to make — to be self-supporting and independent.

Dear Amy: I'm 20 years old and I've been with my boyfriend for five years. We are planning on getting married once we both finish school. I'm currently living with my parents so I can pay for school. My sister "Mary" is 16; she is an aggressive person and knows how to irritate a person to the point that things blow up. She is my mother's baby and has always gotten away with her behavior.

My boyfriend also has a quick temper and gets irritated with her treating me badly. After a huge screaming match my boyfriend decided he no longer wants to be around her, including holidays and family vacations. I feel like I'm being forced to choose family or the man I plan on spending my life with.

I know I'm young but I love him and my family loves him. I've communicated to my sister and boyfriend that there needs to be a change in the way we interact. Both tell me that it'll never happen and there is no point in trying. What do I do?

— Sad

Dear Sad: On one hand, I think your boyfriend is doing the right thing by staying away from a family dynamic he cannot change.

On the other, if you allow his — or your sister's — behavior to control you, you are contributing to the unhealthy dynamic. If your boyfriend wants to keep his distance, then let him.

Unless she matures and changes, your sister could continue to be a divisive person in your life — if you let her. If you notice a pattern that she drives off other people you care about, then you will have to determine not to be her victim and work hard to disengage.

Dear Amy: I had to laugh out loud when I read the letter from "Under Pressure in D.C", whose 3-year-old son carried his blanket around!

I'm 55 years old and still have my blanket. It has been repaired by my grandma, borrowed by friends who faced crises, traveled Europe and Mexico, and celebrates with me on my birthday.

My blanket is a tattered wreck now, but I intend to frame it with a little hammer to break the glass in case of emergency!

— Blanketed in Seattle

Dear Blanketed: I find these testimonials to "blankie" heartwarming.

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