Dear Annie: I have been with my husband for four years, married for two. In all this time, there are still some things I am not comfortable with.

"Norm" is a very quiet man who doesn't say much. He has a brother who lives really close, but Norm has never introduced us. I also have never met his mother or talked to her on the phone. She lives out of state and calls Norm only on his cell phone. I bought her a gift for the holidays and she told him to thank me. I have never seen any pictures of his childhood or of his parents. He keeps his bank statements and his checkbook at his brother's house.

Norm moved here from out of state 12 years ago and recently changed his last name because he said he didn't like the way it sounded. He doesn't have any life insurance. When I try to get information from him, he acts weird and gets mad, so I leave it alone.

I am his wife. We don't even have a checking account together. He splits every bill with me. One day, I asked if I could use his gas card. He followed me to the station, put 20 bucks in and drove back home. He keeps score on who pays for what. He seems so strange to me. What's up? — Not Sure in California

Dear Not Sure: You've known this man for four years. Surely this secretive behavior is not new. Your stingy, paranoid husband could be hiding things — a criminal past, another family, money — but it's also possible it's just his personality.

Talk to him and explain, lovingly, that you want to be more connected and ask how to make that happen. You also could do some investigating to see what you can dig up about his past. And by all means, call his mother and say hello.

Dear Annie: I am writing about the letter from "Ticking Clock," the woman whose husband did not want to have another child. You said it was unfair of him to make a unilateral decision not to have more children. Why is it unfair for him to make a decision for both of them, but not unfair for her?

Having a child means taking on huge long-term physical, financial and emotional responsibilities. For those who want a child, the rewards of parenting make it worthwhile, but for those who don't, it entails great sacrifice for little return. If the husband gives in because he is pressured into it, he may "come around" and learn to love the child, but he may spend the next 20 years begrudging the time, energy and money he has to spend, and no child deserves that kind of childhood. — B.N.

Dear B.N.: Sorry if our response gave that impression. We don't believe either of them should make unilateral decisions about having another child. We think the husband should be willing to discuss it (which he isn't) instead of making the decision for both of them. Read on for more:

From N.Y.: Tell "Ticking Clock" that having two kids is not all it's cracked up to be. My girls have been fighting since the youngest could talk. If I had it to do over again, I would have stopped at one.

From California: There is no guarantee that siblings will have a special bond. My brother and I love each other, but simply have nothing in common. We don't share even a fraction of the bond that I have with the people I have come to love and respect through many years of shared experience.

From Omaha: You should have asked "Ticking Clock" one simple question: "Is it more important for your child to have a sibling or for his parents to not be divorced?" That is basically the corner her husband has painted her into.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.