Evenings at home fall silent as wife embraces cellphone

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

DEAR ABBY: A large portion of conversation in our home has been replaced with the time my wife spends on her cellphone. Not that she is talking on it. It’s games and Facebook that absorb hours of her time.

We used to spend evenings working on special projects together, but that is the exception now and no longer the rule. If I ask a question or make a comment, she answers, but we sit mostly in silence.

Must I accept this as the new norm that seems to have swept up everyone and wait for her to tire of this activity? I have gently mentioned my dismay, but when I did she became defensive and said it is HER time. Do you have any advice on how to cope with this? -- MATTERING LESS IN MISSOURI

DEAR MATTERING: Facebook and gaming can be so absorbing that when members sign on for “just a minute,” the next thing they know, two hours have flown by. I say this because it has happened to me.

Discuss this again with your wife, and this time tell her you miss the closeness you had when the two of you could share activities and that you are lonely. If she doesn’t realize that it is a red flag, the two of you may need professional mediation to reach a compromise, such as a scheduled date night.

If that doesn’t satisfy you, look for projects or hobbies you can share with other people with similar interests. You are not alone in having this problem. Taking evening classes might solve it in the short term.

DEAR ABBY: I am a gay man. My boyfriend, “James,” and I have been together for nine years with a few time-outs. I’m 59; he’s 57. In many ways we have a great relationship and care deeply for each other. Our problem? We are in the same field of employment but work for different companies. He works full-time in a highly stressful position, while I work 20 hours a week and have a great time doing it.

James earns twice what I do. I have no money put away for retirement because I don’t earn enough to save. James doesn’t like it. He wants someone who is his equal in saving money.

Obviously, our story isn’t as simple as it sounds. His therapist supports his feelings. Mine says: “In 2008, when everyone lost their pensions, you didn’t see a bunch of people filing for divorce, did you? There are more important things than money.”

I don’t know what to do. I want to grow old with James. -- MONEY WOES IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR MONEY: You two need a different kind of mediation than two shrinks and an advice columnist. From where I sit, you would benefit from consulting a financial planner who can help you figure out if there’s a way to put away some money for a rainy day. If you include James when you do, it might also give him some insight.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.