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Humbled and loving husband learning too late?

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 have no doubt she knows it.

Dear Annie: The letter you printed from “Stressed-Out Student,” who had no idea what subject to pursue in university, really struck a chord with me. Your advice to consult the career counseling office was spot-on. A properly run career counseling office will give the student psychometric tests, which will give him or her a good idea what careers would be suitable for them.

I have always thought this type of testing should be mandatory in the final year of high school. At the end of an academic year, after graduating from high school, students generally are expected to go on to college or university or vocational school, but they have never had an opportunity to experience the world and find out for themselves who they really are and what they really like. Often, students pick a direction after high school that is totally inappropriate for them.

In the best-case scenario, this simply means the loss of time until they sort it out. However, in too many cases, this can lead to financial and psychological problems. This is really serious. If, as a society, we can afford to educate our children to the high school level, then surely we can afford to help them get to the next stage in their lives by giving them this career counseling assistance. — A Former Stressed Out Student

Dear Former Stressed Out Student: You make your case well, and I am sure many readers will thank you for it. At the same time, there is no substitute for experience, even if it means struggling to find oneself while in your late teens or early 20s. What appears like lost time can actually be a tremendous learning experience that will pay off later in life.

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“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. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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