Dear Annie: We belong to a dinner group with six married couples. One of the couples divorced after the husband caught his wife having an affair. He no longer comes to the dinner parties, but the ex-wife still shows up and brings her new (married) boyfriend. They have been together for three years.
Here’s the bigger problem: She flirts with my husband at every social activity. She always gives him a hug when we run into her. He is always pleasant and chats, when I’d rather he was less chummy. One time, on New Year’s Eve, I saw my husband put his arm around her waist as she moved to the music with another man. I watched (humiliated) as the three of them swayed back and forth.
I assume it was the alcohol that prompted him to do this. However, it apparently fueled her fire. At one dinner party, she leaned across the table toward me and made a comment about my husband’s “size.” I kept my cool and replied that it wasn’t her business, but my husband, who was sitting right next to me, said nothing.
At the dinners, we act like friends, but I am sorely tempted to give her a piece of my mind. My husband is getting aggravated with me. He claims he’s never cheated on me and she’s never touched him inappropriately. He says, “What am I supposed to do?” I asked him to delete her cell number, but he has not done that. This woman is not my friend, and I think she’s crossed a line. Any suggestions?
— Had Enough
Dear Enough: As always in such cases, the problem is less about the woman and more about your husband’s reaction. He allows her flirting and even encourages her, and then becomes annoyed with you for doubting him. It undermines your trust. There is no reason for him to have her phone number in his contact list. Ask him to delete it while you are watching. Then tell him all of his future responses to this woman’s inappropriate remarks should make it clear to her that he is not interested. If he refuses, the next step is counseling.
Dear Annie: I have noticed that whenever there is a tragedy involving the death of a child, people place stuffed animals and dolls at the scene. Please, in memory of these children, tell readers to donate the toys and dolls to the local police or fire departments, hospitals or a cancer center where they will bring comfort to living children.
Dear Pennsylvania: That’s a lovely idea, and we hope people will consider it, although not everyone will want to. There is some sentiment attached to marking the actual spot where a tragedy occurred. We understand why loved ones might object to having these tributes removed, but in many instances, they are a safety hazard. Also, stuffed animals that have been left out in the rain and mud are no longer in any condition to donate.
The handling of these roadside memorials belongs to the local municipality. Many allow toys, dolls, etc., to stay for a specified period of time, and then the department of transportation removes them. In some areas, temporary memorials are replaced with a single permanent marker. The state of Delaware bans roadside memorials altogether and has instead provided the Delaware Highway Memorial Garden as a tribute. You should inquire with your local department of transportation and suggest the objects be donated.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Worried Wife,” whose 44-year-old husband drinks too much and refuses to see a doctor or dentist. In addition to the advice that you gave her to contact Al-Anon and make sure he has a valid will and that his affairs are in order, she also should make sure he has a lot of insurance. She will need it to raise their four children alone.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.