Dear Amy: Perhaps you can help me negotiate a sensitive breakup -- with my book club.
Ten of us have been meeting monthly for seven years, since our founding by a dear friend (who passed away recently). We have had a pleasantly eclectic sequence of fiction and nonfiction books and, invariably, terrific meals.
But lately we've had a run of titles I just find tedious. More and more, conversation drifts from our book to work, family, vacations and other matters I don't much care to chatter about. I find myself daydreaming about more exciting book partners.
There are great reasons to belong to a book club. It keeps you anchored to a world of books and focused, intellectual conversation. You may find yourself in the company of worthy people you'd otherwise not have met. In my big city, there are bound to be abundant alternatives.
The other book club members are neighborhood friends and other acquaintances that I like. I don't want to hurt their feelings, and I can't think of any way to gently back away. If I say I can't do second Tuesdays anymore, they will surely agree to find a new night. But it's time to go. How? -- Burned-out Bookie
Dear Burned-Out: You may think it is relatively easy to find a new book club, but in my experience, it can actually be quite challenging. Many clubs are more or less closed to new members. It might be a good idea to see if you can find another club to join, before you make any sudden moves out of this one.
Otherwise, because you are a charter member of this club, you could try to refocus the club back to its original function. Who is choosing the titles? Who, if anyone, is leading these discussions? The discussions might drift because the titles aren't engaging enough. Or, more likely, your club has experienced a familiar drift -- away from books and toward food and fellowship.
The dynamic of your club (and your interest in it) would have changed drastically with the death of one member. Don't discount the impact of this loss on all of you. So -- talk about it!
Don't invent an excuse or conflict. If you choose NOT to confront any of the problems you see creeping into the club, you should start by saying, "I'm planning to step away from the club for six months or so. Would you all be willing to welcome me back after this sabbatical?" This would buy you some time to make a definite choice, and would also soften your exit -- both for you and for the other members.
Dear Amy: Today is the eighth anniversary of my marriage. We are spending it apart.
Two years ago, my husband started putting a body pillow between us in bed, he said, "I don't consider us married anymore." He is not having an affair.
He is very wealthy. We have separate bank accounts.
He has given his adult children millions.
He just gave the house we live in to his youngest son, and is building a new one. He has even made the comment that I should feel privileged to be living in his house, rent free. He refuses to go to marriage counseling. We live in a community property state. There was no prenup.
He is very emotionally abusive and a narcissist, Until I came along no one ever stood up to him. I even had to go out of the county to find an attorney because local people are so intimidated by him.
Call me paranoid, but every night he brings me a drink and I don't dare drink it.
Should I go or stay? -- Worried
Dear Worried: If you are so afraid of poisoning that you won't accept a drink handed to you by your husband, then that's a pretty heavy clue that it is time to exit, safely, and (ideally) with half of the assets he managed to acquire during the course of your marriage.
A lawyer and a forensic accountant could help you untangle this. Do not stay. Find a way to exit safely.
Dear Amy: "Peter" was a Trump fan and a new hire at a company where they played CNN on the televisions all day long.
Aside from calling him out for being a total snowflake, THANK YOU for suggesting that televisions in businesses should not be turned to cable news! -- Sick of It
Dear Sick: Yes. This goes for all cable news -- not just a specific channel.