Dear Annie: A year ago, my sister “Lois” left her boyfriend. She had no place to live, so my husband and I offered to let Lois and her four children move in with us. I have three teenagers myself, so our house became very crowded.
At the time, Lois was attending nursing school. She received government assistance and child support, and offered to help buy food for the household. I watched her kids, fed them healthy dinners and got them ready for bed. When Lois later got a part-time job, we asked her to help pay for a portion of the electric and gas bills (about $125 a month).
Here’s the problem: Two months ago, Lois suddenly became interested in the groceries I was buying and how much they cost. She told me that her child support and government assistance were intended only to feed HER family of five. It felt like a slap in the face. I have stopped buying groceries for her kids, but I have watched her buy them junk food and fatty snacks. When I mentioned the unhealthy choices she was making, she told me to mind my own business.
Since Lois is no longer helping to pay for groceries as she promised or contributing anything other than a small portion of the utility bills, I think she should find somewhere else to live. If she can afford to go out with friends every weekend and rent a car to take vacations, she can pay a decent rent.
My parents and siblings say I’m being selfish, but I haven’t seen any of them offer to let Lois live with them for $125 a month. What do you say?
— Feeling Used
Dear Used: You are understandably angry with Lois, who doesn’t seem to appreciate the kindnesses you have extended. You need to talk to her, in a loving, sisterly way, and explain how you feel. We agree that she should find her own place, and perhaps other family members will offer to help her do that. But if she cannot manage it financially and you are still willing to let her stay, discuss a reasonable amount of rent that she can afford and that will not make you feel like a doormat.
Dear Annie: When inviting a couple to celebrate their anniversary at a local restaurant with a group of people, should the host select the restaurant or ask the honoree if she has a preference? (Please note that the honoree is known to have preferences.) In our case, when the hostess learned that the honoree did not like her choice, she felt insulted and canceled the event.
Also, when honoring someone’s special occasion with a donation, does one give to one’s own charity or ask the honoree if she prefers a specific charity?
Dear N.Y.: When donating to charity in someone’s honor, it is best to select a charity that reflects the honoree’s wishes. And while it is nice to consider the honoree’s preferences when choosing a restaurant, the person who is paying gets to select the venue. It is rude for the honoree to complain, and the hostess should not throw a hissy fit and cancel.
Dear Annie: Please tell “Turned Off” not to blame the wives for their husbands’ long nose hairs and eyebrows.
My husband has gadgets to trim his nose and ear hairs, but he seldom uses them. He claims he can’t see the hairs even though I’ve given him a magnifying mirror. He doesn’t even like to spend money on a haircut, so when I’m tired of the long locks, I cut it myself. He wears faded blue jeans all week, even if we go somewhere special. His dressier clothes only come out for funerals. He threatens to stay home if he can’t wear what he wants. Fighting isn’t worth the aggravation. Thank goodness he bathes and changes his underwear every day.
So, if you see a neat-looking wife with a sloppy husband who offends your sensibilities, it’s not her fault.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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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