Dear Annie: I have been with “Joe” since his wife died nine years ago. The problem is, we have different styles of communication.

At first, it wasn’t too bad. I have tried to analyze our fights to see what I could do differently or what we could do together to make it better. But I have settled on the fact that Joe can never be wrong, and it affects everything. He won’t do anything in a new way, cannot say he’s sorry for anything he has said or done, won’t admit to hurting my feelings, and often won’t believe what I say. Worse, when he gets an idea in his head, he won’t change it even when presented with new information that proves him wrong. And when I suggest he reconsider, he often makes comments that are below the belt and painful for me. It’s frustrating.

Joe is 75, and I am 66. We live together and don’t want to move. I know he won’t go for counseling, nor will he believe anything he reads that contradicts his impressions. How do I keep my sanity and stop these fights?

Need Your Help

Dear Need: Let’s understand this. You are willing to put up with what sounds like frequent verbal abuse because you don’t want to move? Does Joe have any redeeming qualities that make up for his stubborn ignorance and disagreeable nature? We don’t see love here. We see fear of being alone. You cannot make Joe become a better communicator unless he works at it, which he won’t. Only you can decide whether you are willing to tolerate this in order to stay with him. Some counseling for you alone might be helpful.

Dear Annie: Why do people pay so little attention to the proper pronunciation of certain words?

This morning, I received a telephone call from a salesclerk, who informed me that something I had ordered was no longer available, but she had “fount” a similar item if I cared to substitute. I’d like to substitute “found” for “fount.”

Also, I’ve heard several people say “ax” when they mean “ask.” An “ax” is something you use to chop wood. If the speaker had “axed her,” she wouldn’t be able to answer, now, would she? “Ask” should rhyme with “task.”

Last week, for the umpteenth time, I heard someone say, “We are having a sells event.” The word is “sales.” You are having a sale where you hope to sell things. You are not having a “sell.” And why do people continue to say “I done this” or “I seen that” or “they come over yesterday.” These people have been to school and presumably learned the proper tense for verb usage.

Why are we so careless in our speech? OK, Annie. I feel better now.

Shepherdsville, Ky.

Dear Shepherdsville: Glad to help. Some kids don’t pay that much attention in school. And how your friends and family members speak can be a greater influence than what you learn in a short class. Rules of grammar, if not reinforced at home, often go by the wayside.

Standards have relaxed a great deal, but still, people who cannot correctly pronounce words are considered uneducated or worse, and it can affect the jobs they get and the people they attract, which shapes the rest of their lives.

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