Dear Amy: I am a very active 66-year-old woman. I hate being idle. My mostly amazing husband doesn't mind idle time. This would be OK, except he resents my constant coming and going.

After retiring from a stressful corporate job, I have two part-time jobs: one that takes about eight hours during the week and the other four hours on the weekend. I also enjoy fitness, riding horses, playing with our grandson and socializing during the day. Rarely do I go out in the evening.

I could never be happy at home every day, but that is what makes him happy. I love him and don't want to cause him hurt, but after 24 years together, I'm wondering if we are incompatible.

He won't go to couples counseling, and I'm not sure what, if anything, I should do. What are your thoughts?

Amy says: You seem to define "idleness" as a pejorative, and I wonder if you send your husband some signals (unconscious and overt) that you don't approve of the way he is spending his time.

I recently read a study profiling several couples newly in retirement, and in each case one partner seemed quite frustrated that the other wasn't busy enough; these couples seemed to be struggling to adjust to the changed balance in their lives. Rebalancing takes time and effort.

You and your husband might compromise by choosing an activity out of the house that you could enjoy together. Also, knowing your weekly schedule in advance might help him to be less triggered by your coming and going. Otherwise, your husband needs to understand that ultimately he is responsible for his own happiness.

He might reject couples counseling, but individual counseling could help him a lot. Plus, social connections are vital to health and contentment in the latter years, and he would benefit from connecting with other men at a similar stage in life.

Puppy love

Dear Amy: My wife and I have an older dog that we got when we were first engaged. Cassie has grown along with us, and now that she is in her elder years, we are protective and concerned about her.

About six months ago we fell in love with a small-breed young dog and brought her home. It did not occur to us that this might create a problem. But Cassie now seems stressed and unhappy all the time. She tries to hide from the younger dog, who has playfully nipped at her.

We don't want our elder dog to spend her final years stressed and unhappy. We have learned that friends of ours would take in the young dog, but we feel so guilty about doing this. We are reaching out for some of your compassionate common sense.

Amy says: Assuming responsibility for the life, health and happiness of an animal is an almost sacred stewardship. We owe it to our animals to make the hard choices in what we believe will be in their best interests. And yes, oftentimes guilt follows the hardest choices.

You are choosing to protect the more vulnerable animal, and that's the right thing to do.

Mystery solved?

Dear Amy: A reader recently reported a "mysterious mourner" at their father's funeral, which took place many years ago.

This mysterious mourner didn't introduce himself to anyone, leading to speculation that he was perhaps a "love child" of the deceased dad, who had been an alcoholic. It is quite possible that the mourner was a friend from AA.

Amy says: That thought didn't occur to me, but several other readers have suggested it. Thank you!

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