Dear Annie: I was a lousy husband. Not because of physical or emotional abuse but because of ignorance. I grew up in a household where I never heard my father tell my mother he loved her. I never heard him give her a compliment or ask her opinion.
He was a hard worker and a good provider. She bought whatever she needed, never wanted for anything. She just existed. I just existed. I guess you can say we were just not a family. We were three people living in the same house doing what we were supposed to do.
I treated my wife in the same way. She didn’t complain. She came from the same kind of family. She was an angel; she deserved much better. It wasn’t until she passed and I lived alone with time to learn from the media that I understood how ignorant I was and how bad I was to her. I wish I could tell her how much I loved her and that I am truly sorry. — Ignorant Husband
Dear Ignorant Husband: Ignorant husbands don’t write letters like this one. Your letter does not come across as being from someone ignorant. In fact, it comes across, you come across, as someone who might have made some mistakes in the past and has always cared deeply. Your ability to express that has changed.
Your wife sounds like an amazing woman, and I am truly sorry for your loss. But rest assured that you are being way too hard on yourself. If you had this realization, I’m sure you had moments of love and joy. Try to remember all of the good times you had with your wife.
When we know better, we do better. At the time, you didn’t know, so there is no use in beating yourself up. You’re grieving right now. Find a support group for widowers. Perhaps individual counseling could help you. Just by writing this letter, you are bringing awareness to other husbands or spouses who might be doing the same thing and want to change. Thank you for sharing your story and expressing how much you love your wife. I’ve no doubt she knows it.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now. Annie Lane’s debut book featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information.
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