Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm not blind, but I don't see that well any more. I stopped commenting on my wife's new outfits and hairdos over the last year because of my eyesight. To me, she is always beautiful -- she used to be a model and still is a fashion queen -- but I'm not up for fabricating compliments for some outfit or hairdo I can't see. To me, this is reasonable.
She has never complimented me about anything, but has long enjoyed my words of praise. This week, when we had another tiff about this, I realized the marriage-long inequity. "When have you ever said anything nice about the way I look? Think about it," I said to her. She had nothing to say, except, "You're a man. What do you care?"
Actually, I do care. When I was still working in the corporate world, women commented on my stylish suits, coats and shoes, but never my wife. It was all about her and how she looked. Compliments feel good and I never got any at home. Now nobody's getting anything in this house, and I mean that in every sense of the word.
I know this may seem trivial for a man to write about, but this has turned into a cold standoff. -- Stubborn Husband, Tuxedo
Dear Stubborn: It's important to know when you have made your point, it's going to stick and you can back off. In your case, your wife was finally forced to look at the one-sidedness of physical admiration in your marriage. You clearly made the point that you need compliments, too.
She may be willing to start trading compliments, but you have to prime the pump. That means you need to say you're sorry for ignoring her efforts to look great for you and start complimenting her again. Say, "Come closer. I want to see what you're wearing today. Oh, that's a beautiful (cut, colour, design) and it looks great on you." When you're getting dressed to go out, you say, "What do you think of this for the party tonight?" or "How do you like the new suit I just bought for so-and-so's wedding?" You lead, and get her in the habit of complimenting your clothes, too. Show her compliments are a lift for you too.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I hate my fiancée's kids, especially the oldest boy, who is a rude, obnoxious, self-centred know-it-all. He's stupid and his mother tries to cover it up by doing his homework for him. He looks and acts like his idiot father, and I just wish he would go and live with him.
The younger son is a temper-throwing brat who thinks the world revolves around him and no one else matters. His mother encourages this, as he's her baby. The only good thing I can say about him is he enjoys sports and I can relate to him through those kinds of activities.
I won't leave my fiancée because I know I have a good thing going here and she takes care of everything. I do find myself finding ways to get away from them when they're here every second week, but in the end this is where I will stay.
How can I convince her that the kids would be better off living with their dad and that our relationship would be so much stronger if we only had the boys on the weekends? -- Not Stepfather Material, Winnipeg
Dear Stepfather: No one should live in a house full of hatred. Please write back and tell me all the things the boys don't like about you, and what, if anything, they do like.
This is a disastrous situation for everybody every second week. Could you get your own place and have your fiancée stay with you for a good part of every week the kids are not with her? I would like to encourage my readers to weigh in on this, especially those who have experienced the blended-family blues. We'll print your suggestions in an upcoming column.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6