Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. My wife says she wants “some space” to decide whether to stay in our marriage. She pawned her wedding rings. She said she would get the rings back but hasn’t done so yet. I have information that she is seeing another man (at least she is making plans for this on Facebook), and I believe that they have hooked up in the past — before we separated.

She has yet to tell me that our marriage is over. All she says is that she doesn’t know. She says she knows she loves me but is no longer in love or emotionally connected to me. My heart tells me to stay until she says it’s over, but my head is telling me to cut my losses while I can.

We have young kids, so that makes it difficult. What should I do?

Hurting Husband


A. How do you know when your marriage might be over? When your wife hooks up with another man and brazenly posts her plans on Facebook. When your wife tells you she is no longer in love or emotionally connected to you. When your wife pawns her wedding rings and makes no plans to retrieve them.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

It gives me no pleasure to tell you that your marriage is over, but your wife has already demonstrated this. Don’t wait for her to officially lower the boom. Take back some of your own power. See a lawyer. Take care of your kids. They’re going to need a steady, stable dad.

Q. My brother and his wife have two married sons. Both are well educated and successful. Both sons have babies, and more are planned.

My brother and his wife want to be more involved in the lives of their grandchildren. They live relatively close to each of their sons. Both sons are married to dominating professional women — this is how these women have described themselves.

The sons rely on their wives to make all the family plans and inform their parents about visits. The maternal grandparents are welcomed freely. The sons have accepted their submissive roles in their corresponding families. Having restricted access causes my brother and his wife stress and anxiety.


My sister-in-law is recovering from cancer. I have suggested to her that she ask her sons not to leave it to their wives to make all the choices about their families. They do not want to alienate the young mothers for fear of retaliation.

As a retired military officer who is accustomed to making decisions and facing confrontations directly, I welcome your sage advice.

Pensive Brother

A. As a decisive and take-charge kind of guy, it must drive you crazy to see these grandparents get the short end of the stick from their sons.

But, here’s the rub. These sons are also dads, and unless they step up and assert their own wishes, their wives will be calling the shots concerning their children for the rest of their childhood.

This might translate into a dad strapping his baby into a Snugli on a Saturday morning and saying to his wife, “You know what? I’d like to take the baby to see my folks. Do you want to come, or do you want to sleep in today?”


The fact is that many young moms do end up running the family show. And this is partly because of their own anxieties.

Your brother and his wife should speak with the adults involved here and say, “We would like to be much more involved. How can we help make that happen?”

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.