Dear Annie: I am married to an absolute angel. Unfortunately, her mother has been living with us for the past two years. Mom doesn’t work, doesn’t do much of anything around the house, doesn’t cook or clean, and sleeps until nearly noon. We have to ask her to do things, just as we would a child, and then she responds as if we’re scolding her.
Mom is only 54 and has no medical or physical problems that would keep her from working. She has worked, but can’t keep a job. When her husband died, she lost everything because she never bothered to ask for help or advice. She believes that God will make a way for her. I have no problem with that, but God expects you to be willing to take the first step forward.
We don’t want her on the street, obviously, and will continue to let her stay here. But we have no privacy and require extended trips just to feel normal. How do we encourage her to move on?
— Need Mother-in-Law Help
Dear Need: Mom is too young to be so useless around the house. Does she have mental health issues? Adult Attention Deficit Disorder might explain why she has so much trouble keeping a job. But regardless, she is not going to do anything about it if you and your wife don’t set some rules and stick to them. Even volunteer work would give Mom a sense of purpose and a place to go every day. Your wife needs to be frank with her mother, saying that she loves her but needs her to contribute to the household in some form. Insist that she get counseling as a condition of staying, and your wife should ask to go with her for the first session to explain the issues to the counselor.
Dear Annie: Two years ago, my wife developed breast cancer. The cancer was removed, and we’ve been told she will be fine. We have been married for 41 years, and I am hoping for another 41. I love my wife more than words can say.
Since her brush with cancer, I have noticed that things that once might have incited a “discussion” no longer seem to matter. And I have discovered a number of maladies of my own.
I have, for instance, become “deaf” to certain things in our marriage. For instance, she used to say “you know” a lot. You know? Now I am just thrilled to hear her voice. Blindness has also invaded our house. Neither of us notices the petty annoyances that used to bug us. Our marriage is better now that we don’t see so well.
We both have lost our ability to talk, as well. Once in a while, certain words — hurtful words — used to be thrown around carelessly. But now, neither one of us has the ability to say such things anymore. And I had no idea that cancer could make a person forgetful. I can no longer recall any of my wife’s faults.
One thing that has not been affected, though, is my heart. It still races when I see her. It still flutters when I hear her voice. And it still skips a beat when we kiss. Why must we wait until it is almost too late to appreciate what we have — and could have lost?
— A Little Wiser
Dear Wiser: We love this. Your words should remind all couples of what is truly important. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with our readers.
Dear Annie: I have another suggestion for “Not Anti-Social or Addicted to the Internet.” A good place to meet folks is at a bowling alley. We have a lot of fun at our local one. They offer bowling, coffee and some prizes. It’s not a regular league, just a fun time. He should check it out. It includes folks of all ages, although most range from 50 to 80.
— Bowler from Florida
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.
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