Dear Annie: Both my husband and I are on our second marriages. We have tried very hard to get along with our exes, to no avail. When we invite them to go to parent-teacher conferences with us or attend dance and piano recitals, it seems to only make matters worse. The children saw this, and it hurt them greatly. My husband and I promised each other that when our children were engaged, we would talk to them to ensure they were not making a mistake. I wish my parents had done this, even though I realize I might not have listened.
My husband’s son got engaged suddenly at the age of 21 to his first girlfriend. My husband and I thought he was far too immature to get married. His fiancée at the time was extremely loud and boorish and also inexperienced in the dating world. We spoke to our son and explained that he was young and there are many fish in the sea, and that even if he were madly in love, there is no need to rush to get married.
Well, he told his fiancée, and we were not invited to the wedding. Now, neither of them speaks to us. We tried to get his sister to pass along birthday greetings on our behalf, but she said, “I don’t want to get involved.”
It’s been nearly six years. We miss our son greatly. How do you suggest we proceed?
— Unhappy Parents
Dear Unhappy: Your heart was in the right place, but disparaging a child’s intended is asking for trouble. They rarely listen and often become defensive and angry. The best you can do is swallow your pride. Phone or send a letter or email saying you were wrong to have interfered, that you can see that their marriage was the right choice for them, that you are sorry for engendering ill will and that you hope they will forgive you. Add that you miss them, and ask whether there is anything you can do to improve the relationship. We hope they respond positively.
Dear Annie: I am excited for the upcoming holiday party season, except for one thing: Please ask your readers to have respect for the non-drinking guests at their parties.
I am in my 30s, married and a mom, and I don’t like to drink, but I feel pressured every year at these parties. I never preach about it. I simply say “no, thanks” when offered. But, my response is never respected. Instead they say, “Oh, come on, it’s a party!” Or, “Just have one if you’re worried about driving home.” Some become quite aggressive in trying to get me to indulge.
What if I were a recovering alcoholic, deathly allergic or drinking were against my religion? It’s none of their business. But people act as if I am crazy for not accepting a glass of wine. I think they are poor hosts for pressuring me. I can have a great time without drinking.
— Dry in California
Dear Dry: People mistakenly think they are being friendly by cajoling you past the point of politeness. You can keep saying “no, thank you” until they give up. Or, pour yourself some water in a cocktail glass. A third option is to accept a glass of wine and hold it in your hand until the party is over. You don’t have to drink it.
Dear Annie: I could have written the letter from “Hurt in Florida,” whose children and grandchildren don’t include her in their get-togethers.
My daughter told me they are “just too busy” for me. But they somehow have time for her dad and stepmother, as well as her in-laws and several friends. I haven’t seen them in more than a year. We don’t talk because I don’t call.
I don’t understand any of it. I just wanted to let “Florida” know that she’s not alone. I’m hurting with her.
— Midwest Grandma
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. 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.
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