Dear Annie: I am in a loveless marriage. My husband and I barely speak to each other. I mostly stay in my room because it’s easier than dealing with my life when I’m not by myself.
Do people really hold hands and kiss goodnight? This has never happened to me. I have panic attacks, and this is a problem. But I know I am capable of love if given the chance. Unfortunately, there are no more chances for me, because my husband just doesn’t care. What can I do?
— Lonely Lady
Dear Lonely: Your marriage sounds terrible. Are there children? Are you financially dependent on your husband? Are you unwilling to consider divorce? Why did you marry this man? Yes, couples hold hands and kiss goodnight and care deeply for each other. Please get some counseling, with or without your husband, and see what you can do to make your life better.
Dear Annie: You have printed many letters from older people who are upset because they are estranged from their grandchildren or because they are not allowed to visit as often as they would like. Here are a few questions these folks might consider:
1. Do you treat your adult children like adults? Or do you mar visits with unsolicited advice and criticism disguised as concern? Typical topics that should be off-limits include child discipline and housekeeping.
2. Do you constantly make jokes at your children’s expense or revisit sensitive issues from their youth and then, when they object, claim they have no sense of humor?
3. Do you expect to be treated like royalty while visiting, rather than pitching in like family members should? This is especially frustrating when babies and young children are involved and parents could use an extra hand. Bring a dish to share or help prepare dinner and clean up after. Change the kid’s dirty diaper. Get your duff off of the sofa.
4. Do you consistently undermine your children’s authority in front of their own children?
5. Do you find yourself complaining to peers about your children’s reluctance to invite you over or to take your advice about parenting? If so, trust me, it means the time before, during and after your visits is stressful to your child and his or her partner. And the grandchildren will eventually pick up on this. You are grandparents. That doesn’t make you infallible. Take responsibility for your end of things.
— Rolled Up the Welcome Mat
Dear Rolled: You make some good points, although we remember a time when grandparents received more respect, when a parent’s advice was cherished and no one would dream of asking Grandma to clean up the house. But on the other extreme, we’ve heard from children whose parents were physically and emotionally abusive and still expect to have full access to the grandchildren. The healthiest relationships lie somewhere in between.
Dear Annie: “Vermont Reader” was upset that people use the handicapped stalls to change their child’s diaper. Some stalls serve double duty, as there is no other accommodation for diaper changing and the handicapped stalls are the only areas large enough.
Bathroom visits tend to be short, regardless of the reason. A person needing to wait for another to finish is not handicapped-specific. It happens to everyone. Sometimes we need to show a bit of latitude.
— Seen It
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.