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Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


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. Never-Ending Bullying Dear Annie: I am the youngest sister of 10 siblings. Over the years, five siblings have died. You'd think we would try to be closer after such awful losses. So when does the bullying stop? I have tried to be an upstanding sister and aunt, but no …Read more. The Buzz About Medical Equipment Dear Annie: Shortly after I had knee surgery, I went to the library wearing my (prescribed) compression wrap to prevent blood clots. This compression wrap makes an intermittent humming sound. A few minutes after entering, the librarian walked over …Read more. Past Anger Is Hard to Overcome Dear Annie: Twenty five years ago, my youngest son, then 18, quit the job he had had for four years. They had promised him an assistant manager job and when he turned 18, but did not follow through. After that, he would not look for a job or even …Read more.
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She's Tied Up Her Husband and Her Boyfriend


Dear Annie: I am 52 and have been married for 32 years, most of which have been platonic. We've stayed together for the sake of the children, who now live on their own. My husband and I get along fairly well, but I have no feelings for him, and there is no chance of that changing.

For the past eight years, I have been involved with "Darren," a man I am crazy about. He knew from the beginning that I wouldn't leave my husband until all my children were out of the house. Now he is putting pressure on me to begin divorce proceedings. But I am uncertain about a future with Darren. He is controlling and has a quick temper and a total disregard for others. I am afraid he will cause friction with my children, and I am not willing to jeopardize my relationship with them.

Darren also runs hot and cold. We get along great when it is just the two of us, but when other people are involved or when life takes a turn, he becomes difficult because he is unable to adjust to even minor adversity. He also is jealous and suspicious of everything I do and say, although I've given him no reason. He pops into my office whenever he wants, sometimes causing trouble with co-workers.

Darren has participated in counseling at my urging, but he only attended a few sessions. I also had counseling, but it didn't help. I don't believe this relationship has a solid future, and I probably should get out. I am devastated to think of losing Darren for good, but it is also scary to think about giving up my home and security for something so uncertain. How do I muster the courage to break off with someone I love? — In Turmoil in Lancaster, Pa.

Dear Lancaster: The excitement and escapism of your affair allowed you to overlook the controlling, unpleasant aspects of Darren's character. Now that you can be available as a committed partner, you are seeing him more clearly. He will not make you happy. You have managed to tie up both your husband and boyfriend in unfulfilling relationships.

Have the decency to stop dangling Darren on a hook, and let him go. He won't like it, but there is no alternative that will work out better.

Dear Annie: I just returned from a weeklong family vacation, and once again, I am disturbed by the sleeping arrangements of my relatives. My large family rents several condos, so we have plenty of beds, couches and ample floor space.

Here's the creepy part: There are mothers sleeping with teenage sons, teenage boys sleeping with their sisters, dads sleeping with teenage daughters — you get the picture. It's not happening behind closed doors, so nothing disturbing is going on. But why would a single dad have his adolescent daughter sleep with him rather than put her on the floor in a sleeping bag?

I have teens of my own and wouldn't dream of bunking down with one of my boys or having him share a bed with his teenage sister. Is this normal? — Icky

Dear Icky: No. It almost sounds as if your relatives are trying to prove how affectionate and close they are, but these kinds of situations can lead to inadvertent trouble. Hormonally developing teenagers should not be sharing sleeping space with relatives of the opposite sex, and we hope your family members will show more respect for their privacy.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Losing Money," who asked if parents should pay for missed music lessons.

If you skipped a doctor's appointment, you would be charged. She has to treat this as any professional business. I began charging for lessons by the month, payable the first week of the month. Students would receive a credit only if they contacted me 24 hours prior to a missed lesson. Once I established this policy, parents were much more diligent about showing up. — B.

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, 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



28 Comments | Post Comment
I think LW1 should cut ties with both men. I understand divorce is difficult, but her kids are adults now so she can't use them as an excuse anymore. Chances are, they know more about this living arrangement then she thinks they do. Also, she says she has no feelings for her husband, but I wonder if she would be as casual if he were to find a woman? It is going to be difficult for either of them to find a fulfilling relationship when they are using their marriage license as a security blanket. I certainly wouldn't date a man who was married and living with his wife. Life is too short.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Datura
Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:31 PM
I agree with Datura that LW1 should cut ties with both men, but it should go one step further. LW 1 should seek counseling to get at the deep seeded reasons why she must define herself by having a partner (either her boyfriend or husband) in her life. Until she truly understands and loves herself, then she will be better able to have a loving relationship with her family and a partner.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Catharine
Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:09 PM
It's all well and good to suggest that the writer should "cut ties with both men," but where are the harsh words that would be directed at the LW if the genders were reversed? Wouldn't we be seeing angry posts from the regulars here, demanding to know why a man was stringing along a wife AND a girlfriend? And reminders that he should "man up" and get out of his marriage before starting up with someone else?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Matt
Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:35 PM
To In Turmoil (LW 1) it sounds as if you've answered your own question in your letter. How can you still "love a man" who "is jealous and suspicious of everything you say and do"? He "pops into your workplace and causes trouble with coworkers", as well? For what? To annoy you? To prove he's "a tough guy"? You sound miserable in your letter, and if you keep stringing Darren along, you will both probably end up very unhappy with one another. I say get over him and
get your life together.

To Rick, Chris and Ariana (holdover from yesterday's posts re: Stephen King's first novel, "Carrie"): now the three of you need to stop cracking me up, or "I'll make the stones come again."
Comment: #4
Posted by: Jean
Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:26 AM
Matt, I assumed those harsh words would go without saying but in case they haven't I'll provide them. I think LW1 is a nutjob and many other words that they won't print here. She's an awful person for staying in that marriage if she and her husband haven't agreed to have an open marriage. I don't care that she strung a lover along. Anyone who dates a married person is stupid anyway, and deserves to be strung along. I don't feel sorry for her or Darren. I don't know enough about her husband to feel sorry for him or not, but I do feel bad for the kids because I'm sure they didn't grow up in a happy home with very good role models for what makes a happy marriage.
Comment: #5
Posted by: FAW
Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:27 AM
Re LW1: "Darren" is showing the classic signs of an abuser--controlling, irrationally jealous and attempting to isolate you from your loved ones. You may try to end things with Darren before you end your marriage, but be prepared for the likelihood that he will not go quietly. Keep your local battered spouse's network on speed-dial.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Bear
Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:37 AM
I think LW1 likes having it all. The security and normalcy of her doormat husband and the excitement and unpredictability of her "bad boy" paramour. This is why I don't advocate staying together for the sake of the children. It usually winds up a lose-lose situation for everyone. What does LW1 expect her poor husband to do when SHE makes up HER mind about what THEY are going to do? She's calling all the shots and he's merely along for the ride. LW1 is unbelievably selfish. She needs to let both her husband and the boyfriend off the hook, pronto. Then, she needs to get into counseling and try to figure out why her 32 year marriage was so emotionally barren. My guess is that her basic unavailability on multiple levels prevented this marriage from ever getting off the ground.

LW2: Ewww. Is there really more to say?

Anyone who misses a scheduled appointment of any kind involving a professional who makes a living off his or her craft (i.e., music instructors, personal trainers, hair stylists, computer technicians, etc.) should happily pay in full when a time slot is scheduled but the client fails to show (or cancel the appointment in a timely manner.) Refusing to pay for such wasted time is the height of inconsideration and is downright rude. As they say, time is money; it's how professionals make a living. Any client who refuses to pay for missed appointments should be dropped after the second time.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris
Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:19 AM
chris, i agree with a few exceptions: sudden illness or broken bones do not always give warning; neither does a death in the family; home invasion, fire or car accident. i have a friend who gives music lessons. last year, one student with swine flu came for her lesson anyway. my friend got the flu, which went into pneumonia. she lost more than a month of work. that student should have stayed home.
Comment: #8
Posted by: alien07110
Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:30 AM
Oh come on...many families sleep together on vacation. It's people like you who try to make it something that it's not. My son cannot sleep on the floor as it gives him major migraines. That happens to me too. So on vacation, with limited bed space, we do share a bed to SLEEP in. No, we do not share a bed at home so get your minds out of the gutter!
Comment: #9
Posted by: always
Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:43 AM
@alien07110 You're right, however, that doesn't mean you shouldn't still pay for the missed appointment. It's not okay to leave someone hanging who cleared time in his or her book, just because you had an emergency or otherwise missed the appointment. You book the time, you pay for it. Period. There's simply no excuse for failing to do so.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Chris
Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:14 AM
I agree with LW3's payment requirements. When I was a teen I took guitar lessons that had the same payment system: I paid for a month in advance, and I owned the time. If I missed a class without proper notice, the money was not refunded. One week when I had a sprained wrist, I attended anyway and let the teacher play his own works for me -- he didn't mind, and it was fascinating to observe his techniques in action.
In general, freelancers such as music teachers have to think of themselves as sole proprietors of a business. This attitude is difficult for some artists, but they must be practical, and learn about accounting, if they want their teaching careers to flourish and pay the bills.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Claude
Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:50 AM
Do we really have to ritually excoriate the first Letter Writer--the woman who has been in a platonic marriage for 32 years--on the grounds that if the sexes were reversed we'd be excoriating a man in a similar boat? No, of course not. Anyone who has been married for 32 years, more or less platonically the whole time, can be said to have reached a mutually agreeable accomodation with his/her spouse. Whether the LW is male or female its pretty clear that the spouse in question isn't the issue: its been a platonic relationship for more than a quarter century. I think there's a very good chance that the neglected spouse is happy with this arrangement and, in fact, prefers being married "without benefits" to the cheating letter writer than being divorced. If I had to guess I would suspect that the spouse (in this case a male but it doesn't have to be) is either asexual--plenty of people are--or gay but in the closet. In my mother's day (my mother is now in her seventies) the number of women who were unknowingly married to closeted gay men was really high. Because society didn't permit men to live openly as gay, and it also didn't permit women to live openly as unmarried. The pressure was so high that often men and women married and lived largely platonically after they had fulfilled societies expectations about marriage and procreation.

At any rate, this posting thread doesn't need to satisfy "Mark's" desire for there to be a "good guy" and a "bad guy" in ever letter. The LW is really clear that her problem is with her boyfriend, not her husband. The Annies gave a pretty good answer, for once. As did one of the other posters who pointed out that at 52 the woman in question should be getting over her need to define herself---to herself and her children--as someone who has to have a man in her life. But she should use caution in getting rid of the boyfriend. He sounds like he could be dangerous.

Comment: #12
Posted by: aimai
Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:16 AM
LW1-Matt, I have to agree and I refer back to an earlier comment I made about about "Neverending Midlife Crisis;" there is no excuse for this! I know it happens all the time but that's ridiculous.

LW1 states she and her husband are "staying together for their children's sake." Nothing irritates me more than someone with a "martyr complex." Get over yourself, LW1! My parents almost split up once but then my mother said they were staying together for my brother's sake (apparently, I didn't count since I was heading off to college that fall). I almost told her not to do either of us any favors. I love my parents but much of what I learned about marriage from them is what not to do.

The moment LW1's children find out about her on-going affair, they are likely to feel betrayed, that their family life feels like a lie. LW1 would have been better served to either find a way to be closer to her husband or called it quits.

BTW-Believe it or not my parents are still married. They just celebrated their 38th anniversary last month. While I am happy that they have worked to resolve a lot of long-standing issues between the two of them and are now closer to each other, I dearly wish they had done that years ago instead of making each other miserable, which in turn made my brother and me unhappy, too. I knew my mother was very unhappy even though she thinks she managed to hide it. I wouldn't be surprised if LW1's kids are aware of it, too. Children are far more intuitive than most people give them credit for.
Comment: #13
Posted by: LibraryKat
Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:42 AM
I like LW1's comment, "He also is jealous and suspicious of everything I do and say, although I've given him no reason." Um, hello? You have PROVED you're a cheat, by cheating on your husband with Darren. Why should either of you think the other is faithful material? I am not saying that people can't be faithful to a lover when they aren't to a spouse, but to say she's given him no reason???

That being said, I agree with other posters that she should cut both men loose, and focus on herself and why she feels she needs a man in her life.

AND, as far as "staying together for the kids"... that's only a great idea if you are actually care about the family, and the children's happiness, etc. IMO, if you are having an affair, your energies are focused there, and you aren't really doing anything "for the kids."
Comment: #14
Posted by: Kerry
Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:07 AM
LW1 - you say you are "crazy" about Darren, but you say absolutely nothing else positive about him in your letter. Just what does this guy have that makes you "crazy" about him anyway? I'm guessing that you're thriving on the drama, not on the relationships.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Paul W
Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:42 AM
Re: Bear
I also spotted that LW1's Darren sounded like an abuser. If she breaks it off with him, she might want to alert the security at her work--and brace herself for when he confronts her husband as well.
Comment: #16
Posted by: M Katherine Davis
Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:50 AM
@ Icky and the Annies: You all are wing nuts. I see nothing wrong with families sleeping together. What about camping when everyone is in the same tent? I happen to have a great relationship with my teen children, both emotionally and physically. Too many parents stop giving their children the physical attention they need, i.e. hugs and the like, as they approach the teen years. As humans, we crave and need touch and if our children don't get their needs met at home by a hug, they will go elsewhere to get it and that can lead to physical attention that has major consequences. Lighten up, sometimes a hug or a nap is just that.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Joan
Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:58 AM
LW1 should see a lawyer pronto, and tell him everything, as a prelude to telling her husband everything. LW1's husband cannot possibly be aware of the ugly, stupid and dangerous choices his wife has been making, and he certainly will not have thought through the consequences of her decision to dump Darren.

When LW1 dumps Darren, as she must, Darren will retaliate. Batterers never let their victims escape without a fight. He will, at least, tell the husband and children all the ugliest details of their affair. He may also threaten the husband. So LW1 will probably need a restraining order, and if her husband has any sense, she will need representation in a divorce.
Comment: #18
Posted by: T
Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:17 AM
I agree with some of the other comments...LW1 is a friggin' nut job. Staying together for the kids does no one any favors and now she has gotten herself in a mess. And to say she is "crazy" about this man and yet has nothing but complaints about him is contradicting. There shouldn't be a reason to ask for advice - if he's as bad as she claims he is then just leave him. It's that simple. If he's crazy enough to be dangerous then take the precautions necessary to make sure he doesn't hurt you or anyone else. I agree, also, that she needs to figure out why she needs to be validated by a man in her life...she needs to be alone and figure out how to be happy doing so. It is after that when she will be able to be happy with someone else..with her eyes wide open.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Molly B
Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:22 PM
I wonder if Darren after so many years did not have to worry about being the only guy in this woman's life. Plus why is he controlling now? Hmmm...could it be because he is with a woman who is not satisfied with just one guy. Before his masculinity was in tact. He got the womans love despite children and a husband. But now he is in danger of being the guy whose wife or lover would rather have someone else. This woman keeps all her men. She will not dump either of them. Darren should leave and find himself another safe, married woman.
Comment: #20
Posted by: cindy
Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:45 PM
In family situations like that we would always divide up, girls with girls and boys with boys.
Comment: #21
Posted by: nonegiven
Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:17 PM
Re: Matt Seeing as the advice is applicable regardless of the gender, I'm not sure why it matters whether or not a guy get's a "man up" speech. It's not as if everyone is cheering her on as some kind of victim. The Annies went so far as to tell her to have the decency to break up with Darren and stop stringing him along, putting the blame squarely on her shoulders (where it belongs). If anything I'd say that's a pretty charitable attitude towards Darren, considering he's not exactly innocent.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Jon
Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:42 PM
I have had doctors call and cancel an appointment with me less than 2 hours before the appointed time. Why can they cancel an appointment without giving a credit, but I have to pay an outrageous sum?
Comment: #23
Posted by: Krystyne
Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:05 PM
aimai, I agree with most of your post but must point out an error. It is not true that society didn't allow women to live singly and unmarried in the first half of the 20th century. I have personally known many women, now in your mother's age group, who worked, kept their own apartments, had their own lives, etc., some of whom were professional women. There was also a great emphasis on women marrying, but "society" neither forced these women to do so, nor shunned them for not doing it.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:45 PM
Maggie Lawrence. Uh, yes, of course "society" didn't legally force women to marry. My great Aunt never married and against a lot of odds became a very successful journalist and film critic. But you are sadly mistaken if you think that women were not "shunned" in many ways for not marrying/procreating/fitting in. Especially at the point in their lives when they were young, highschool and college age. In addition women who appeared single were routinely discriminated against. Even married women couldn't get birth control with or without their husband's consent prior to Griswold v. Connecticut and an unmarried woman couldn't access it at all.

When I was a little girl in the sixties restaurants routinely wouldn't serve single women. Women who had been married and divorced still had trouble getting their own credit cards, bank accounts, car loans, and even rental apartments. Of course this varied from state to state and region to region and the amount of trouble you had varied, as well, depending on your age, class, and social station.

Lets not whitewash the past on this one.

Comment: #25
Posted by: aimai
Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:06 AM
aimai, I was a teenager/young adult in the 60s and I was never "not served" in a restaurant for being single. The 60s were a very contentious time and I wouldn't whitewash it, but I think you are painting it with an overly broad brush. I well remember the automatic discrimination against women in that period, but from my personal experience, it wasn't as bad as you're trying to make it seem.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:58 AM
Aimai and Maggie, geographical region might be a factor here. Oh duh, I just noticed you already said that, Aimai!
Comment: #27
Posted by: Van Wickle
Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:33 AM
Right on, LibraryKat!! Agree 100%
Comment: #28
Posted by: MLM
Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:25 PM
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