Dear Annie: I have been married to the love of my life for several years. Our children are all grown and out of the nest. I recently learned that over the past few months my husband has had numerous telephone conversations with a female acquaintance. I know this woman, too, although not very well.
I travel for work several times a month, and that’s when most of these conversations took place. My husband says they are “just friends,” that she’s young and looks to him for advice. Annie, she’s younger than I am, but not so young that she still needs advice from someone old enough to be her father.
Do you think this could be a case of “where there’s smoke there’s fire”? What should I do?
— Country Gal
Dear Gal: There may not be fire, but only because you stomped it out. Your husband is not being forthcoming when he says they are “just friends.” The fact that most of these calls took place when you were out of town indicates he was hiding them, which means he is not so innocent in his intentions. Nothing may have happened, but he didn’t discourage her attentions or make their contact transparent to you. Tell him the “friendship” is over, or it’s time to see a marriage counselor. Or an attorney.
Dear Annie: In raising our children, we always stressed proper etiquette and thought they knew how to behave. However, we recently had lunch with one of our adult sons in a restaurant. He continued to talk with food in his mouth, placing his other hand about two inches away from his face.
After witnessing this a couple of times, I asked him to please not do that as it is not only rude, but, between the food and his hand, we couldn’t understand a word he was saying. He replied that it is rude if one doesn’t place their hand in front of their mouth while chewing. What happened to the rule “never talk with your mouth full”?
— Dismayed Parents
Dear Parents: We are going to assume your son witnessed someone doing this and decided it was appropriate. It is not. One should chew with one’s mouth closed. One should swallow food before opening one’s mouth to speak. If you can do both of those things, there is no reason to put your hand over your mouth and prevent people from seeing your lips and hearing your voice clearly. You have our permission to send this to your misinformed child.
Dear Annie: Please pass this along to “Trying To Be a Stepdad,” whose wife doesn’t back him up when he refuses to buy the kids expensive things.
My ex-wife was exactly the same. Anytime I would try to teach our two sons that you can’t have everything you ask for, I would be disregarded. I served in the Navy, and the kids knew if I said “no,” the next time my ship went out to sea, their mother would get them whatever they wanted. The kids never had to work, save or wait for anything.
Two years after I retired, my wife left me for half of my pension, and I inherited $50,000 in credit card debt. I am still paying it off eight years later. I tried to be a good provider, but my ex could spend it quicker than I could reload the ATM. My oldest son and I don’t communicate because I don’t bail him out every time he needs money. My younger son and I have a good relationship because he now understands why I am this way. If “Trying” and his wife can’t stand united, especially on big-ticket items, he will be the one picking up the tab for a long time.
— Been There, Retired
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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