DEAR ABBY: My husband barely speaks to me. We both work full time and are facing the empty nest very soon. At home, I have to initiate even the smallest of small talk. He’ll never say “Good morning” or ask “How was your day?” Although I work hard to keep the house the way he likes it, he speaks up only to criticize the few times I don’t meet his standards. There’s never a word of acknowledgment when I have accomplished other elements of housekeeping.

When I laugh at the Sunday comics, he doesn’t even ask what’s funny. As a result, I have become defensive. Then he accuses me of being “dismissive of his feelings.” He says I don’t communicate with him, but when I do, he barely responds, so over the years I have basically shut down. We have been to counseling, and maybe it’s time to go again. Do you have any perspective to offer?– UNACKNOWLEDGED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNACKNOWLEDGED: It is definitely the right move to return to counseling. But when you do, this time speak up for yourself loud and clear. If you do, it may change the dynamics of your relationship because when he accuses you of not communicating, he is blaming the victim. Once you have said your piece, let the marriage and family therapist mediate what is certain to be a long-overdue discussion. 

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DEAR ABBY: This may seem like a strange question, but my husband says our 6-year-old cat, “Taffy,” is really 42 years old. He says one cat year equals seven people years. Taffy is like a baby to me. What gives?– NEVER HEARD THAT IN NEVADA

DEAR NEVER HEARD: Your husband is right. As you may have already noticed, humans have longer lives than dogs and cats, but pets mature faster. According to veterinary medicine, the first two years of a cat’s life equal 25 human years. After that, every cat year equals four human years. This would make Taffy the ripe old age of 41 or 42. If this is shocking to you, remember that 42 is the new 22. 

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