Dear Annie: I was married for 30 years to a man I loved deeply. I know perfectly well he is not perfect (who is?) and saw him struggle to control his temper and sharp tongue. He had a schizophrenic father and an alcoholic mother. They divorced when he was about 10, and he bounced from foster home to foster home. He slept in alleys and ate from garbage cans.
He was deeply loving, fiercely protective and faithful. He had compassion for the downtrodden and often gave away food, clothing and money to the less fortunate. I loved his heart of “pure mush,” as he put it.
Unfortunately, my family only saw his quick temper and said he was only using me for my money. He always worked, just at lower-paying jobs, and we learned to live with less so we could give more away. They never saw the generous things he did.
When he died, I notified both families and received no condolences whatsoever. His family has never acknowledged his passing. My family members seem intent on degrading him in front of our mutual friends and me. These are people who claim they care about me, but I wonder. Why won’t they let the man rest in peace and leave me with my loving memories, instead of trying to justify their apparent hostility? He’s dead now and can’t aggravate them anymore. How can I get them to stop?
— Still Loving My One and Only
Dear Still: You have to tell them and make it stick. If your relatives begin denigrating your late husband, respond with: “Please stop saying terrible things about someone I loved. It makes my grieving more difficult.” Don’t lose your temper or cry. Simply make your statement, and if they continue to say unkind things, get up and leave. Eventually, they will stop, but at least you won’t have to listen to their comments in the meantime. Our condolences on your loss.
Dear Annie: My daughter has never let me meet my grandson. He was born in May, and the last time I saw my daughter was in March when I hosted a baby shower.
She and her boyfriend don’t believe in God. I asked them whether they would bless the child, but they became angry. She is really breaking my heart. I can’t believe she is so evil. What can I do to resolve this?
Dear Grandma: People who are deeply religious often do not understand how offensive their religious demands are to people who do not share their beliefs. By asking your daughter to bless the child, you were showing disrespect for her and her boyfriend. We know you strongly disagree with their approach to raising their child, but it is not your decision to make. If you ever hope to have a relationship with your grandchild, you will need to demonstrate to your daughter that you can be trusted not to undermine her parental authority.
Dear Annie: Thank you for your poignant answer to “In Love With Another Man,” the foolish married woman who has reconnected with an old flame. I, too, had an overly close relationship with a man despite a perfectly good marriage. Circumstances in my life made me emotionally fragile, and “the other man” set off sparks that had only vaguely smoldered in the marital day-to-day. Long conversations with a counselor made me realize that “the other man” had all sorts of traits that would be repugnant to me if it weren’t for the excitement and the romance of the fling, and I eventually found my way back to the man I married. I pray “In Love” follows your excellent advice and does the same.
— Never More in Love
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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