Dear Margo: Like Two Ships in the Night

My husband has become a night owl and I don’t like it! Margo Howard’s advice

Like Two Ships in the Night

Dear Margo: I love my husband very much, but he has some OCD traits, and over the years they’ve gotten worse. (We’re both in our 60s.) He’s retired but still “working.” He spends all day on the computer, checking security updates, reading a list of forums that interest him and doing other things he deems essential. If we go out in the evening, which is rare, he speaks of “getting behind” in his “work.” The list of stuff he “has to do” has gradually pushed our dinnertime later and later. Added to all this is the fact that he has a lot of medical problems and sleeps very poorly, so he often gets up around 1:00 pm or later in the day. The result of all this is that he now expects me to eat dinner with him at 10 or 10:30 at night.

I am a morning person. I really hate eating late, going to bed even later, and getting up the next day at noon — which is what happens if I go along with his schedule. I have talked to him about changing, and he claims he’s trying to do so, but it never happens. I have my own friends and an active social life without him, but I’m still not happy. I miss the husband I used to have. Is there anything I can do to change this situation? –Missing Him

Dear Miss: Your husband’s “work” sounds harmless enough. I believe it’s his schedule that’s throwing a monkey wrench into your life. For the OCD situation, as well as the schedule he has slipped into, I would recommend a therapist and also a psychopharmacologist, since there are effective meds with which to treat OCD. I think if that happens, you can “get him back” and his vampire hours will moderate. Having your own activities is the right thing to do. As for dinner at 10 (just like Spain!), I suggest you eat separately and keep the schedule that’s comfortable for you until he gets both help and results. –Margo, hopefully

Being Rude Via Text Message

Dear Margo: Yesterday, my daughter’s 14-year-old friend “Sarah” was disrespectful to me in a text message when I asked her to pass some information along to the coach of their team. (My daughter was home sick, and I did not have the coach’s information to reach her myself.) The text message bothered me all day, and I have no idea how to deal with it. I know the girl’s mother very well. She is a wonderful person, and we get along well. She would be beside herself if she knew that Sarah texted me what she did.

Do I say something to this kid next time I see her? Do I mention it to her mother? I am getting conflicting opinions from friends. I’m afraid that if I don’t speak my mind, I will have a difficult time containing my feelings of disappointment the next time Sarah is at my house. My daughter is very upset at what transpired, but Sarah is known to have attitude issues. It often surprises me that they are friends, but my daughter is very honest about telling Sarah that her attitude needs to change. I don’t want my daughter to get involved, so I am not expecting her to say anything about this. –Irked Mom

Dear Irk: This rude kid is 14. You are … well, you are older. I would not get down on the kid’s level to set her straight. If you were to bring up the text message, it would mean absolutely nothing to this teenager with attitude, so spare yourself the agita. What would be good is if your daughter told her she didn’t appreciate it. But I would not lean on your child to do this. When next she is at your house, I would be correct, but chilly. –Margo, maturely

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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57 comments so far.

  1. avatar A R says:

    LW1: First, I want to comment that “having OCD traits” is not the same as OCD. Who diagnosed this? Or is the LW just parroting something she heard on Oprah or read in a women’s mag? Second, the husband is bored and trying to recapture some sense of accomplishment in his day. He probably needs a part time job to help him get back to normal. Suggest that he look for some work that would allow him to have an office, be his own boss—-like being a real estate agent, security company sales rep, or something related to his last field of work.

    LW2: Hmmm. I think you need to let this rude text issue drop. Texts are not exactly the best vehicle for communicating emotion, intent, or nuances of meaning.

    The bigger problem the way I see it is that your daughter habitually runs with a girl who is known for being an ass. She also brings this girl to your house. I’d probably be more concerned with that than anything. What the girl does at home is one thing, but what she does inside your house and with your daughter is your business.

    One other thought: As both a parent and middle school teacher I can tell you this: the whole, “it takes a village” belief is bogus. Parents say they believe this, but not really. For the most part people get really defensive when you let them know as a parent or as a teacher that their child isn’t doing the right thing. At the end of the day people *want* to stick up for their child.

    Too, norms are different in various families. Two instances come to mind: once when driving through my neighborhood, I had to stop the car to avoid hitting two twelve year-olds standing in the street. I rolled down the window and in my calmest voice said, “Ladies, please don’t stand in the street. When you hear a car coming, move to the side so you won’t get hurt. What you are doing is not safe.” Within 24 hours I had two angry parents telling me that I had “no right to tell their child what to do”, and that their children “had the right to stand in the center of the street if they wished”. Seriously. They said that.

    The second instance: When my own child was in elementary, she didn’t get a sticker on a worksheet she’d worked hard on. She said to her friend, “Aw…that’s sucks for me.” Her friend tattled to the teacher, and I got a call at work later that day. The teacher wanted me to be upset about my daughter’s comment. I said, “Ms. X, with all due respect, at our house that’s not a bad word. Her dad says it, I say it. I’m sorry that it offended you. I’ll let her know that you don’t care for the use of that expression in your classroom”. I shook my head privately thinking the teacher was making a mountain of a molehill.

    My point is that unless the girl texted, “WTF! Why do I have to tell coach this? Do it yourself!” you really are treading on slippery ground in terms of what is rude and what her parents’ expectations are. Really, if she is know to be rude, what makes you think her parents will respond to your complaint? Obviously they can’t handle her in the first place.

    • avatar flyonthewall says:

      I couldn’t agree with your post more concerning LW#2. From what I have seen, parents don’t want other parents to their child. Your children in the street example is something you can find right in my neighborhood. Parents where I live even get defensive when law enforcement tells them to keep their children out of the road and obey road laws. It’s crazy.

  2. avatar maxie says:

    LW#2: What I’d like to see is the text mom sent. Maybe she’s the one at fault here–not that teenagers should be rude to adults.

  3. avatar flyonthewall says:

    My gut feeling on L#2 is for the mother to let the issue drop. There are too many parents out there who do not want other parents talking to their children for whatever reason. What lw should have done was to call some other adult (school, other parent, etc.) to try to get the coach’s contact info. I would not trust a 14 yr old with an attitude to pass on a message. LW could have had her daughter call “Sarah” for contact information for Sarah’s mom so lw could speak directly to her about coach’s contact information. Given Sarah’s past history of attitude problems though, that would only be a last resort option in my opinion.

  4. avatar darlean washington says:

    Forward the message to the mother.

  5. avatar Jody says:

    I believe you teach people how to treat you. As a coach of girls’ volleyball where the players are 14, I would NEVER put up with that. Even as a mother, I wouldn’t put up with it. The girls know it, too. There have been opportunities where I was able to ask them if they speak to their parents that way. We teach by example. It takes a village to raise a child. And for those who may believe it is not my place, let me just say that I expect the same in return. If my 14 year old is disrespectful, let her know, make her go home, call me, whatever it takes. It’s how I was raised. I also believe it IS MY PLACE to let others know I will not be talked to or treated in a way that goes against my integrity. If the parent has an issue with that, that is their problem, not mine. Why are we so afraid to raise our kids these days? My advice: Put the hammer down and don’t take attitude. You don’t have to be mean about it yourself. You can be sweet but stern. Say what you mean… mean what you say. If you allow others to do things to you that go against your integrity, then you are going against your integrity, thereby lowering your integrity. Obviously time has passed since this happened. But, it’s never too late to teach others how to treat you. That’s my humble opinion.