Dear Annie: Recently, you printed a letter from a woman whose boyfriend excessively belched. Well, now I am here to complain about my wife’s sneezes.

When she sneezes, it is practically a scream. I think it gives me ear damage. It definitely gives me a start, not to mention our poor cat, who takes off running for cover every time. This is worse in the spring, with the allergies.

I have heard that it is unhealthy to hold in sneezes, but the volume, at least, would seem controllable to me. Can’t she dial it down?

— Alarmed by the Achoos

Dear Alarmed: In theory, yes, she probably could; in reality, it would be pretty difficult to pull off. We’re capable of controlling the volume of our sneezes to a degree (by closing our mouths, for one). But it’s a complex reflex. Otolaryngologists have found that your sneeze is as unique to you as your laugh, and most of us develop a signature sneeze from a young age.

So try to cut your wife some slack. Encourage her to talk to her doctor about over-the-counter and prescription allergy medication options. She should also undergo an allergy test, if she hasn’t already, to identify any hidden irritants lurking in your home. (Hopefully, the cat isn’t one of them — but if so, there are treatments that can help.)

And kindly ask her to give you a heads-up, when possible, if she feels a sneeze coming on. That will reduce the shock factor, if not the ear damage.

Dear Annie: I have two books to recommend to anyone married to someone with Asperger’s syndrome (now called high-functioning autism).

But first, I’d like to offer some background on what it’s like to be a neurotypical spouse of someone with this form of autism. Many people with high-functioning autism do not see any other point of view but their own. In our marriage, that means my spouse thinks if I do something different from his way, I am wrong.

People with Asperger’s often have a very delicate sensory system. Each person with autism works hard to survive every day in our noisy, crowded, visually stimulating world. Some have such sensitive skin that a delicate touch or hug feels painful.

However, there are many positives to being married to someone with this disorder. There are many characteristics associated with autism that are also characteristics of a good spouse: honesty, loyalty and an ethical worldview.

The two books that helped me very much are “Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships” by Ashley Stanford and “Life With a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome” by Kathy J. Marshack Ph.D.

— Supportive Spouse

Dear Supportive: Thank you so much for opening up about your personal experience and sharing these resources to help other couples.

Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to

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