Dear Annie: I’m 46 years old, college educated, with no children. I recently celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary. It’s not what I would call a good marriage. My husband occasionally has fits of anger and has been verbally abusive.
More than eight years ago, I had a miscarriage. My husband wanted to keep trying. He repeatedly has said that he can’t imagine a life without children. I told him that having children is not going to happen, and that if he wants a divorce over this, I won’t fight him. He is welcome to find someone else to have children with. What I did not tell him is that soon after the miscarriage, I started taking birth control pills and continue to do so.
I feel guilty that I might have misled him in that he may think there is a chance for children, although I would hope that at my age he would be past that. My question is: Should I tell him about the birth control? I’m not sure what it would accomplish. I’m afraid of his reaction to finding out, and divorce terrifies me.
— Torn Between What Is Right and What Is Safe
Dear Torn: Regardless of what you may have told your husband eight years ago, if you allowed him to have the impression that you were willing to get pregnant again, then obviously, you have been dishonest. This was grossly unfair to him. But you cannot undo the past, and with your husband’s anger issues, we can understand why there seems no point in telling him now. But a marriage that isn’t good to begin with is not likely to get better without professional assistance. Decide whether divorce terrifies you so much that you are willing to live like this for another 40 years.
Dear Annie: My husband’s sister chooses not to take turns hosting family get-togethers. She has a beautiful home, but claims she does not have any “social living space.” She lives next door to her parents, so either they host, or we do it at our home. Her parents even host her children’s birthday parties. She just gets to show up.
There is a lot of time, energy, planning, preparation and cost associated with having everyone over, and I feel she should reciprocate. However, my husband and in-laws do not see this as a problem. Am I asking too much?
— Olympia, Wash.
Dear Olympia: You are right that your sister-in-law should reciprocate, but it doesn’t matter. She isn’t going to do it. Your choice is simply which get-togethers you host and which belong to your in-laws. If you remove your sister-in-law from the hosting equation, you will be less resentful. You can cut back on the number of times you do this or ask your sister-in-law to reciprocate by cooking a dish or bringing the appetizers, but you cannot force her to open her home.
Dear Annie: I want to thank “Still Suffering” for the gut-wrenching letter she wrote about being abused by her uncle. Any of us who have lived for years with the feelings of guilt and shame caused by being molested by a relative could have written that letter.
When I was 10, I was molested by my older brother for several years. I am now in my 70s and have never fully recovered from the damage it caused. For years, I kept my filthy little secret. Last year, my brother died, and I did not go to his memorial service. Since then, I have told several family members. None of them was surprised, and all were supportive of me. Although I am overwhelmed with the love and support, I will take this scar to my grave.
I hope that others who are victims of molesters will seek help and speak up early and not wait for the pervert to be out of their lives forever.
— Feeling Better Now
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.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.