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Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


Animal Farm Dear Annie: My wife has gotten so many animals that it is out of control. Every time she gets upset or sad, she goes out and purchases another animal. Right now, we own eight cats, four bunnies, six rats, two cows and two horses. Our house smells …Read more. Secret Keeper Dear Annie: My only sibling has stopped speaking to me. My brother had a son 26 years ago. He claims he knew nothing about the child until I told him six months ago that he should take responsibility for his oldest son. We had words, and he texted …Read more. Inappropriate Roughhousing Dear Annie: My girlfriend has a thing that she does with her 10-year-old son that I find borderline weird. The first time I was at her home, while we were cooking dinner together, her son started whining, "Can we do it now, please? Please?" and she …Read more. Reliving High School Through Facebook Dear Annie: While in high school in the late 1970s, there was this guy, "Scott," who had a crush on me. Nothing transpired back then, so fast-forward 30 years. A month ago, I received a Facebook friend request from Scott. Of course, I accepted and …Read more.
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Annie's Mailbox


Dear Annie: I have two sons — "Roger," who is married with three young children, and "Max," who has a baby. Max isn't married to the mother yet, but they live together and will be getting married soon. I consider her his wife. I love both the girls with all my heart.

The problem is, they are jealous of each other. They constantly claim that I favor one or the other and that I love "the other one's" kids more. I find this really annoying, and it also makes me very sad, because I love all four of my grandchildren equally and try to treat them the same. Roger's wife does not have any other family here, and Max's girlfriend was born and raised in this town, so she has a great support team. I probably spend a bit more time with Roger's kids, simply because their mother needs my help more often.

I am at the point now where I am afraid to even visit or call either of them for fear the other will get angry. This seems really petty to me, and I wish they would quit fighting over me like a dog with a bone. I know a lot of mothers-in-law might think this is wonderful, but it's not. Annie, how can I salvage our family closeness without losing my mind? — Mom in the Middle

Dear Mom in the Middle: These girls are using you to cement their position in the family. If you are truly making every effort to treat them equally, don't get into lengthy arguments defending yourself. Unless their complaints have merit, ignore them. Be polite, calm and kind at all times, and smile and change the subject when necessary. When they see you will not jump through hoops and they can't play you against each other, they will stop.

Dear Annie: I'm a 54-year-old divorced woman. A year ago, I met a very nice older man at a dance and we started dating. I thought 64 was too old for me, but I convinced myself that 10 years was not such a big deal. In three months, we were engaged. Two months later, he told me that he is really 20 years my senior.

This came as a shock, and I don't know what to do because I love him.

Since we've been together, things have been good, but I have started to notice signs of age, including memory loss, forgetfulness and physical problems. We are still engaged, but I can't see a bright future for us.

I'm taking care of my 84-year-old failing father right now and am terrified of becoming a caregiver for another old man in a few years. It would break his heart if we broke up. Please help me. — Conflicted in Massachusetts

Dear Conflicted: You have no way of knowing what your life will be like in the future, just as there are no guarantees that a younger man wouldn't become ill and require care. You are smart to recognize the problem, but the answer depends on how much you love him. Marriage vows are "in sickness and in health," regardless of age. If you would resent becoming his caregiver should the need arise, it would be a kindness to break it off.

Dear Annie: "Sleepless and Nervous" could have been me. She said she hides bills and debts from her husband, just like I did.

She may want to consider a psychological evaluation. The sleeplessness, anxiety, helplessness and depression, as well as the spending, may very well be due to bipolar disorder, which can be treated by a competent psychiatrist with a combination of medication and therapy. She can go to the National Institute of Mental Health website at

There is hope. Several years later, I am debt free, still married, have a successful career, and am able to enjoy every minute of parenting our beautiful children. — Grateful in Connecticut

Dear Grateful: Thank you for pointing out that some compulsive behaviors are indicative of bipolar disorder. We know our readers will find your advice helpful.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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



15 Comments | Post Comment
Dear Annie, I recently read your advise to a sibling who's son was victimized by his parents biased toward a favored child. when I was a child my dad did the same to my older siblings when it came to his step-kids. my older siblings were treated as well intended but mis-guided losers, while his step-kids could do no wrong no matter what the subject. My step-mom' oldest only son often fight with her & my dad calling them mindless enablers and that a true parent should put their foot down and allow another sibling the limelight on occasion. that they didn't not only showed them to be enablers, they were also showing that they have no reguard that the pain causes within the family, for you to advise that the sibling should have be used to it is proof to me that you have idea what living with this kind of pain is like, & there fore, your advise in the matter was extremely ill advised & you need to do more hands on research on this subject in the future. From been there & lived it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: tom grant
Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:59 PM
Several months ago you ran a little poem about a dog who didn't want to go into heaven, who wanted to wait for his master because it wouldn't be heaven without him. Could you run it again or email it to me? I kept it, but I surely do not know where. Thanks.
Comment: #2
Posted by: judithzar
Sun Nov 2, 2008 8:51 PM
Dear Annie,
I am in my early 30's, married, with two children. My husband and I have been married for 12 years and our boys are 7 and almost 10. Our 10-year-old has ADHD and has tentatively been diagnosed high-functioning autistic. Up until this past August my husband worked 50+ hours a week on a rotating shift. I also work full-time, but during regular office hours. The differing schedules left me feeling like a single-parent much of the time, and caused some conflict in our marriage. Our older son's issues also cause some tension.My husband now works for an employer whose hours coincide with mine, and we are able to spend time together with the children. My problem is that sometimes we need time alone or with other adults. We have difficulty finding someone to watch our children, and when we do we get grief from our relatives about leaving the children with a sitter. Until this past year we would go out alone twice a year - once for our anniversary and once for my husband's office Christmas party. Now that he is home in the evenings and on weekends we would like to go out more. The problem is that certain relatives say we are going out too much. By too much they are referring to 6 times since July. There is a semi-local band we love, and when they come to the area (once every 4-6 weeks) we like to go see them. So basically we go out about that often. Are we wrong to want some kind of "adult" life? Thanks for your advice.
Comment: #3
Posted by: CP
Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:31 AM
Dear Annie,

My husband and I recently sold our business and he stayed on to work a few more years for the buyer, who was less than forthright about his own domestic situation, though my sqeaky clean husband was given a background check. As it turns out, he isn't a settle, married man as we were led to think, but is an over the hill playboy. We valued our customers and hoped to have them serviced by a stable, caring person.

This man re-hired a previous girlfriend who makes no bones of the fact that she sleeps with the boss. If they kept that between them and maintained a professional atmosphere when he visits the office where she is my husband's only help, I could deal with it. But he drops in any time and gives some pretty heated displays right in front of my husband. Then my husband frequently takes long lunches with them and listens to their sordid relationship and his complaints about his estranged wife whom he sayes wouldn't reconcile and is a spend thrift and likes high society people ( Don't know how he would recognize them). Then I get to hear about how the woman tells my husband some pretty familiar facts about her life on business time, time which I would enjoy having to talk with my husband now that he gets home an hour or more later than when we were owners and he only had my part time help. I am told that the people at the other office dislike the woman and she can't move back there to work and let another person help in my husband's office. The lady who was supposed to be my husband's help, suddenly quit without filling her full notice once the boss's woman came back on the scene. This young, divorced woman; to use my husband's words, wears alot of makeup, revealing clothes and strong perfume. On my last visit to the office, she fit that description. I think she overdresses to please the boyfriend boss, but it is my husband who spends the days with her.

On at least one occassion, my husband drove this woman across town for one of the boss's luncheons. That hasn't been our standard before, and I told him so. I wondered how many married women would want their husband in this situation. I deplore it myself and may not be able to put up with a couple years of it. My husband is in contract with this man for that period of time, and he has to recover our investment and get some debt paid before retirement. He sayes he can't help the situation, but I think he should lay it out plainly that he expects a proper, professional work envoirment. I also think he should decline those group luncheons which no other employees ever attends. Do you have any suggestions? When he told my husband that they would have fun if he sold and joined him , I never dreamed what he meant.Disgusted
Comment: #4
Posted by: C A Medlin
Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:07 AM
Please don't use my actual name. CA Medlin
Comment: #5
Posted by: C A Medlin
Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:10 AM
Dear Annie,
The other day I saw your letter from the friend that talked about her friend having a strake and that he wasn't the same as he was before. I just thought that I would let you know that May is National Stroke Awareness Month. And May 1st is Stroke awarness day for children. Did you know that Children can not only have a stroke but that they can have one in utero? Please let your readers know about this. There are a number of children out there that are afflicted and Doctors don't even know. If you would like to read more about it go to Brendons It is a wonderful story about her child that had a stroke and how the each Doctor that she went to knowing that there was something wrong told her that it was just her being a first time mother. I was one of the lucky Mom's, if you want to call it that, my son had seizures to show that there had been a stroke. If you would look at my son who is now 17 you would never know about what we went through when he was just 3 days old. PLEASE let your readers know about this.....Thanks!
Comment: #6
Posted by: Doreen
Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:49 AM
Dear Annie,
I am 24 years old and have never been in a relationship with a guy. All of my friends have boyfriends and I would like to meet someone to share my life with. I don't meet people easily and tend to be very shy. I work with a lot of people older than me who have families and all of my close friends live out of town so I don't socialize much.
Could you please offer me some advice to meet people and find someone ?

Thanks !
Comment: #7
Posted by: Erin
Mon May 3, 2010 8:01 PM
Guess I should start off by saying I love (I'll call her Candy) with all of my heart. I can honestly say that I have never felt this way about a woman in a long time. Now I'll start with what's been bothering me. I wanted to see if she would be faithful to me. I guess you could say it was a trust issue, but I really didn't know any other way to do it. I went to a well known instant messenger site and created a fake profile. I IM'ed (instant message) her under the other name and started talking to her. I was kind of shocked at first on some of the answers I was getting to some questions I had. I'll give you an example; I asked her if I (the fake guy) could see her. She quickly said she was in a town not far from the fake guy had listed in his profile. I then said that I had no way to get there and she answered with her phone number and said for me to call her. I explained I didn't have a phone right then, and that I would just communicate with her through this IM site. She even went as far as to ask for a picture, which I found one and sent it. I went on for about 3 days, posing as this other guy and she wouldn't always answer him back, but when she was sure that I (real me) wasn't around she would. Now I asked her several times if she planned on leaving her Boyfriend (me) and she answered yes, I then asked when and she answered she didn't know when. She told him that she was going to leave because of mainly a trust issue.
Then just the other day, I was in the back room where the printer was located, and on the printer was a conversation between “Candy” and another guy. This time the conversation got to where she said again it was just a matter of time before she was going to leave me. She also mentioned that she wasn't happy. This time when I actually confronted her about this she said it was just talk and that it meant nothing, that she loves me and that if she didn't want to be here, she would have left already. I don't know whether to believe her or the conversation I read. I really love her Annie and need to know if you think I should accept what she tells me to my face, or just cut ties and take my losses?
Deep In Love in AR
Comment: #8
Posted by: Jay Christy
Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:43 AM
My son now 21 graurated 2007, he had come back home since March of this year. we would like to see him go back out on his own. he says he can't leave till a serious problem that i'm not free to tell. is taken care of.
I have 2 dogs of my own and he has 2 dogs too,I can't handle both. he knows this But he won't pull his wait. should we push him back out of the nest?
Comment: #9
Posted by: Barb Snell
Thu Aug 5, 2010 9:55 AM
HGL here n i just wanna say that ur advice iz really good n i encourage u 2 keep it up....~HGL~
Comment: #10
Posted by: sophmore from SBHS
Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:08 PM
Please reply and let me know if Annie's Mailbox appears in the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, CO.
If so, I would like to send a comment concerning your reply to Alone in Casper,Wy. which appeared on Wed. Sept.,1, 2010.

Thank You,

Comment: #11
Posted by: Deborah
Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:30 AM
I have a 14 year old daugther who came to me and told me how a 57 year old guy wrote her a letter saying how he wants to be with her and that he is in love with her,I asked my daugther if i could see the letter she told me she didnt have it no more cuz when she was done reading it the guy throw the letter in the garbage we called his wife who has a been a friend to are family for 30 years now and asked her to come over whcih my daugther explaned to her what happened she said for us to call her husband and have him come over so we did and we asked him why he wrote her a letter like that he tryed saying that my daugther misunderstood and he got up and left crying,after he left i heard his wife talkin to my daugther saying how she was wrong about the letter and it really bugged me so i looked at my daughter and told her to show me where the letter was in the garabage and were we went and found it and she was right word from word i was torn apart i trusted these people with both my kids i even letthem take my daugther to cuba last year anyways i took the letter to show his wife and they are church going people she told her husband to make a copy of it so that they can take it to there paster anyways he left the room and when he came back i asked him for the letter and he burnt it and said now you have no proof anyways i went to the cops to see what i can do i dont want these people ever to come near my daugther the cops told me there isnt anything i can do mean while my daugther wont leave the house she is scared that he will do something to her i need help what am i supost to do who do i turn to now i need to help my daugther and to make her feel safe again,can you please help me........
Comment: #12
Posted by: nadine
Mon Oct 4, 2010 4:36 PM
Awhile back you reposted a story about a teen driver who was killed in a car accident, and it was the teen talking about it couldn't be true that he was gone and the effect it was having on his loved ones, and how he wish he would have listened, he wasn't finished living. It was something to that effect. I gave the article to my son to read and just recently a friend his was killed in a car accident (speeding) and I really wanted to get the article for him to read again. Hope you are able to find it, thanks.....
Comment: #13
Posted by: Shelly
Sun Mar 4, 2012 8:28 AM
I am a girl who comes from a very unprivileged country. I had planed to move out and complete my university education abroad. I dream to attend a top fashion institution in the US. Unfortunately my parents have been having debt problems and they could only afford to send me to a local university. Before that I attended collage in a top private collage and now after all that I am studying business at a local university due to limited options. People in our country are narrow minded and believe marriage is extremely important and parents have their girls married off at the age of 20-24. I am not one of those girls. I believe in independence but my parents don't understand that. So now I am demotivated and hate school and cant keep up my grades anymore and I am always worried that I may never be able to become the independent woman I wish to be. There is no point in convincing my parents as they are religious and wont give up this belief. I am not allowed to move out to another country by myself as families here believe its not safe. I feel suffocation. What should I do? I cant do a job either so I cant raise funds to leave the county and I cant find proper financial aid either....
Comment: #14
Posted by: mia
Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:17 AM
Dear Annie: I am a long time reader, but I have never felt compelled to write until now. Within a matter of weeks, two writers wrote in about the suffering they were enduring due to past abortions. Please encourage your readers to go online and to check out Rachel's Vineyard. The entire purpose of this organization is to help women and men to heal from past abortions. Help is just around the corner for them.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Concerned MS Reader
Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:39 PM
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