Live and Let Love -- and Encourage a Prenup Dear Annie: My recently widowed 74-year-old mother is now dating. She met "Paul" less than a year ago and is already talking about marrying him. Paul has been married several times, hasn't held a steady job in more than 30 years and lives with his …Read more. Strange Bedfellows Dear Annie: Over the holidays, I stayed at my cousin's home. My cousin has two children, a daughter and a son. The son is 14 years old. I noticed that the boy's grandmother slept with him in the same bed. I think she has a weird obsession with the …Read more. No New Furnishings for the Freeloaders Dear Annie: Last summer, my 19-year-old college student granddaughter asked to rent my basement bedroom, with its own bathroom and access to my laundry room. I agreed and asked for a minimum rent to cover utilities. She attends school on a …Read more. Fair-Weather Claire Dear Annie: My sister's son, "Jared," lives close to us but far from his mother. We always invite them to family get-togethers, but are never sure whether they will show up. Sometimes they don't respond, sometimes they show up without responding, …Read more.more articles
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.
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 www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/bipolarmenu.cfm.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 www.creators.com.
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