Mama always comes first

Dear Annie: I’ve always known that my husband’s widowed mother runs his life. She picks out his clothes and even decided which house we should buy. Of course, it’s about a half-mile from hers.

I thought after we married I’d have a more prominent place in his life. Wrong! Every decision is still made by his mother. He acts as if I’m not smart enough. Meanwhile, his mother completely ignores me. She plans holiday gatherings and everything else with no regard for my preferences or schedule. She calls his cellphone constantly. I think it’s rude. He thinks it’s normal.

I’m seriously thinking about taking our 4-year-old and walking out. I’m not sure he would notice. I love my husband, but he doesn’t have time for me. Any suggestions? I’m ready to explode.

— Second Best in Michigan

Dear Second Best: We are always surprised by people who marry and expect their spouses to suddenly change years of ingrained behavior. In order for your husband to put you first, he must be willing to do so, and he will have to simultaneously fend off his mother’s objections. We think he likes things as they are, so this is an uphill battle. You will have to explain why the change is crucial to the health of your marriage, and then insist on counseling. Keep in mind, no attitude adjustment happens overnight. And without effort on his part, it won’t happen at all.


Dear Annie: Could you ask those people who live in the forests in western states why they build their houses so they will burn down? They must do it on purpose, because they have been doing it over and over for years. Not long ago, 360 big houses burned in Colorado.

You can build a house so it won’t burn so easily. It’s very simple: Just build it out of steel, masonry, stucco, tile and drywall, all readily available at the local hardware store. Any builder today will know how to do it, and I don’t think it would cost much more to build and would surely be a lot less expensive to insure.

— Retired Architect in Dayton, Ohio

Dear Dayton: We have no idea why people build homes with particular materials in places prone to fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. We assume it has to do with the cost, the use of natural materials and a specific preference for the aesthetics. If we hear anything different, we’ll let you know.


Dear Annie: “Concerned Nana” was worried about her 4-year-old granddaughter’s self-image because Mommy wanted her to watch what she ate so she wouldn’t get heavy. You told Grandma to make little “Jill” feel loved no matter how she looked or what she ate.

Oh, come on! What message would we be sending little Jill with Grandma telling her she is just wonderful as she snarfs down a greasy burger and fries, knowing that this artery-clogging food will only cause bad long-term problems? It’s not abuse to tell your child that you can get fat by eating too much. It’s the truth. Do you think that being heavy is going to give this child a better self-image?

I’m in the health care profession and have come to the conclusion that in order to stop this obesity problem, we need to educate our children on proper eating habits. I’m sick and tired of seeing overweight parents feeding their overweight kids junk food.

— Not Scared To Say the “F” Word

Dear Not: It’s interesting how you chose to interpret our response, which specified that parents should teach their children healthy eating habits, and that children deserve to be loved regardless of what they eat. We’ll stand by that. What we object to are parents who, in an obsessive effort to keep toddlers skinny, restrict their caloric intake in a way that stunts their height and health. Surely you would agree.


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.

Special to The Enterprise

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