Dear Amy: For almost 30 years, I’ve been married to an eloquent, thoughtful writer. He turns mundane subjects into interesting reads.
He’s smart and funny; he’s a great person, husband and father.
Before Christmas, he asked what I wanted. I said that more than anything, I wanted him to write down his feelings for me.
Oddly, he pushed back. I backed off. For Christmas he gave me a card with the website address written on it for planning a vacation.
I’ve come across mini-novels that he wrote back in the day about ex-loves; or lovely things he’s written to extended family members. I don’t ask for or expect a lot, but now I feel dejected.
Recently I asked him to take out the word “love” and tell me how he feels about me. He went on about what a fun evening we’d had together.
I’m glad he had a great evening, but he could have just as easily said this about walking the dog. This lack of being able to express feelings for me led to an ugly argument.
I cannot understand. I know he loves me, but this makes me feel like I’m not the love of his life.
I’ve tried and failed to let this go. How should I deal with this?
Amy says: Let me try to describe the dynamic of being a writer and getting an emotionally loaded assignment: Even reading your (reasonable) request to your husband gives me writer-hives.
I suspect that he has creative paralysis brought on by perfectionism, combined with a measure of passive-aggression. He is not going to give you the thing you expressly ask for, as long as you ask for it in such a specific way.
Furthermore, when he did try to complete an assignment for you, you didn’t like it enough. “Yikes,” he thinks. “I’m being edited!”
You and your husband have been together — mainly happily — for 30 years. Must he prove his love for you, without using the word “love”?
If you let up on your “asks,” he might be inspired to surprise you. He might not. Either way, you get to be with a good man, husband and father who is also a gifted writer with a deep flaw: Words sometimes fail him. I hope you can forgive him for that.
A double standard
Dear Amy: The other day, I was waiting at the service desk in a store.
The woman behind me in line was chatting with me, and basically flirting. During the course of this flirtation, she kept touching me.
Personally, I don’t care. Maybe I was even flattered.
But, if I touched her the way she was touching me, we’d be in trouble. What do you think about this double standard?
Amy says: You don’t mention how (or where) this woman was touching you, but yes — many people do not want to be touched by strangers. Others don’t mind it.
If men and women were on a level field, this would qualify as a double standard. But women who don’t want to be touched by strangers sometimes feel intimidated by the size difference (with men). Women are also affected by social conventions regarding expressing their preferences and having their preferences respected. Unfortunately, saying “no” sometimes seems to invite an escalation, rather than a respectful retreat.
The important thing is to learn to read basic social cues and body language, and to actually listen to people when they indicate that they don’t like something you are doing that personally affects them.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickinson.com. Twitter: @askingamy Facebook: @ADickinsonDaily.