Dear Annie: I have been married for 24 years to my high school sweetheart, and we have two sons. For most of this time, I have put up with my wife not allowing any mention of my family or involvement whatsoever in any activities. I don't know why this is so, and she won't tell me. Although I can see my family on my own, I am not allowed to invite them to our home for a holiday, and my parents are permitted to see our kids only on rare occasion. Of course, when it's about her family, she expects me to jump.
I know my father was less than perfect 30 years ago, but I have forgiven him, and he has righted his wrongs. He is a good grandfather to my two boys. My mother and sisters have done absolutely nothing to deserve such poor treatment. But anytime I bring up the issue, my wife shuts down all communication for about a month.
My dad is remarried, and his new wife has two children my age, and I like them and want my wife to get to know them. They are good, wholesome people. But I'm not even permitted to mention their names. I once decided to simply bring them over to the house, but my wife's behavior was so rude and embarrassing that I won't do that again. And then she didn't speak to me for a month.
I want to spend time with my family, and I'd like my kids to know their grandparents, aunts and uncles. My oldest son recently graduated high school, and my wife wouldn't allow him to have a graduation party because I insisted my family be invited. Please help. — Stuck in the Middle
Dear Stuck: Unless your family did something unforgivable to your wife, there is no excuse for her controlling behavior. Since she refuses to explain her grudge, it's impossible to determine whether it has merit, and you are apparently disinclined to tolerate the consequences of putting your foot down. Ask your wife to come with you for counseling, and if (when) she refuses, please get some for yourself. Feel free to spend as much time with your family as you like, and take the kids along whenever possible. They can develop a relationship with their grandparents independent of their mother. If she objects, she should explain why.
Dear Annie: My mother is 89 and in failing health. My sister has taken on all responsibility for her, and I am very grateful. One of our siblings does not acknowledge our mother at all and won't allow his grown children or great-grandchildren any contact. For that reason, my mother does not want him named in her obituary or at her funeral service.
Can we eliminate a sibling from all the arrangements and not expect any legal repercussions? He's very vindictive. — Concerned in Vermont
Dear Vermont: There is no legal requirement that a death notice or funeral service must be worded in a specific way or include specific people. But if your mother has a will that excludes your brother, please be sure she speaks to a lawyer. How sad for everyone.
Dear Annie: "Name-Dropped" was upset that her daughter chose to substitute her maiden name for her middle name. In Louisiana, it is common for the maiden name to be taken as a middle name when a woman marries. It is a loving way of honoring your parents by keeping their last name as a part of your married name. It also makes it easier for people to know who your family is. — Cathie in Louisiana
Dear Cathie: It used to be "de rigueur" for married women to make their maiden names their middle names. But we believe "Name-Dropped" was upset because the middle name was Mom's, and it was a family tradition to pass it on. Now the daughter has removed Mom from the equation, and that's what hurts.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.