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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Deployment may enhance unsettled issues

Kathy Mitchell Marcy Sugar Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: I am a soldier currently stationed in Iraq and have almost a year remaining. I thought I had met the girl of my dreams and was ecstatic when she became my bride seven years ago. But I often have thought our honeymoon was over before the wedding guests departed. It seems the only thing we have in common is our three beautiful children, whom I love very much.

My wife constantly spends money frivolously, instead of trying to pay off our debts. She went to New Zealand on a three-week trip by herself to the tune of $8,000. I have asked her repeatedly to curb her spending, but it falls on deaf ears.

I am a passionate man, yet we lack intimacy in our marriage. In the past seven years, I’ve been lucky if we have sex once or twice a month, and then she acts as if it’s a burden. She forgets my birthday and Father’s Day, and constantly complains about her problems. She says I am insensitive and cold, but I assure you, I am anything but. I write poetry and songs, and love to spend time with my children. Where have I gone wrong? I keep asking myself if I should get a divorce because I am so unhappy and henpecked. I want to be the man I used to be.

I can’t tell if I stopped loving my wife or if it’s just this war going on around me hyping things up. What advice do you have? – Unhappy and Lonely Soldier in Iraq

Dear Soldier: It is incredibly difficult to maintain a close and loving relationship during a war. It is a temporary reality that heightens some emotions and lessens others. Your wife’s spending may be her way of combating loneliness. And since your marriage wasn’t particularly satisfying before you were deployed, your current circumstances only add to your stress and unhappiness.

The military offers counseling. You and your wife should take advantage of these services to see if you can come to terms with your situation and work on ways to be supportive of each other. Before giving up, ask her to talk to the base chaplain, and you do the same.

Dear Annie: All the news coverage of the Terri Schiavo situation compelled me to write. Please encourage your readers to make out a living will declaring their wishes if they should become incapacitated. This is not a pleasant subject, and religious and political considerations must be put aside. Life is a fatal disease! We all are going to die eventually. Please, people, don’t burden your loved ones with having to make these incredibly tough decisions. Tell them what you want. – M.B.

Dear M.B.: These days, it is more important than ever to have your wishes stated clearly and in writing. State-specific forms for living wills and advance directives are available through your state medical society and bar association, or can be downloaded free through reputable sites such as uslivingwillregistry.com and caringinfo.org. Give signed copies to your doctor and family members, and discuss it with them. Making your wishes clear is an act of love.

Dear Annie: My granddaughter was married two years ago and received many handsome gifts. She divorced and is now marrying again.

Is it right to expect the family to be giving as much as they previously did for the first ceremony? She and her parents are well-educated and should know the proper etiquette, but I am almost certain this will cause hard feelings if they see less this time around. – Pocketbook Almost Empty

Dear Pocketbook: Here’s what Peggy Post has to say about it: “Technically, gifts are not obligatory for encore weddings. However, guests who were not invited to a previous marriage – and some who were – often want to express their best wishes with gifts.” That means the choice is yours.

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