Dear Annie: I’m writing on behalf of those of us in the “trapped” generation. We are the ones who grew up thinking Doris Day was the ideal woman. We were college-educated, but still expected to marry and have a family. Many of us limited our careers to part-time efforts.
Then came our husbands’ midlife crises and no-fault divorces. For many of us who had “dumbed down” our careers to care for our husbands, we weren’t able to make ends meet once the child support payments stopped. For some of us, we had sacrificed further education or job advances for our husbands’ careers.
According to the Social Security Administration, I never earned more than $10,000 per year until I was 45 years old. The divorce decree stated that I was to split the children’s college costs equally with my ex, who was making three times my salary. I’ve run up a lot of personal debt paying for my kids’ education, and now, at age 60, I’m making what my husband made 30 years ago. I work hard, but can’t seem to get ahead.
Women like me are tired of struggling financially and raising kids while their fathers find new trophy wives. If your male readers are wondering where the faithful women are, we are sitting home, living with the remnants of the stresses from one-sided divorces. I continue to hope that real companionship is still a possibility.
Dear Thwarted: We are sure you speak for many women. But please don’t give up. Your children are grown now. If you want to meet men (or anyone), devote some time to yourself. Look into activities and organizations that are free, low-cost or volunteer, and see if you can break out of the cycle you are in.
Dear Annie: I’m a middle-aged woman, living with my boyfriend. We have both been married before and have children.
When I met “Doug,” we would sit and talk for hours. Since our engagement, however, everything seems to be going downhill. We have not set a wedding date, nor do we discuss it. Due to my previous marriage and some mistakes, my credit is not where it should be. The amount of money I make will never allow me to get caught up. I have been applying for new jobs, but haven’t found one yet. Doug says I need my credit to be good before he sets a date. I’m interviewing now for a job that could turn into a steady and rewarding career. He said, “Let’s see if you get it.”
Whenever someone asks me, “When is the big date?” my heart sinks. I am starting to feel as though Doug is not ready to commit. He proposed and gave me a beautiful ring. Now we argue a lot. I’m no spring chicken, Annie. I feel as if I’m running out of time. What should I do?
— Want Happiness Sooner
Dear Want: Doug is reluctant to take on your debts and may fear you are using him for financial security. He wants to see that you have a decent job before he marries you. This is not an unreasonable concern. The fact that you’re in a hurry only makes him more skittish. Stop worrying about what other people think. If you get a good job and Doug still won’t set a date, then reconsider the relationship.
Dear Annie: “Empty Nester” said she’s looking to make friends now that her kids are out of the house. Thanks for suggesting meetup.com.
I moved across the country and was concerned about finding friends in a new city. Since I work from home, the office is not a viable place to get to know anyone. MeetUp has been terrific. I joined a dining-out group, another for women over 40 and one for dog lovers. I’ve made wonderful new friends.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], 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.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.