Dear Annie: My parents divorced years ago. Dad waited patiently while Mom chose between him and another man. In the end, Mom chose the other guy, but it didn't work out. Neither have any of her other relationships. Meanwhile, my dad married a lovely, classy and extremely wealthy woman. They have found true happiness, while my mom has become bitter and jealous.
I love both of my parents, but it's difficult to be around my mother when she constantly whines and complains about Dad, saying he has money and she doesn't. My grandmother had to take over most of Mom's financial responsibilities, including helping to pay for our expenses growing up.
Here's the problem. My sister is getting married. She is paying for part of the wedding, but asked our parents to help with the rest. Dad gave her a check for his share. Mom, on the other hand, is unable to pay, and Grandma says she is not covering the cost. This was a surprise because Grandma has always said "yes" in the past. Mom won't tell my sister because she doesn't want to upset her. She doesn't want Dad to know she can't afford it, which is ridiculous because he's well aware that she is financially strapped. He probably assumes Grandma will pay.
Mom has reached a new level of complaining. She cries and is frequently sick. She's angry with Grandma. She worries that Dad's wife will look prettier at the wedding and that her future son-in-law will like my stepmother better. She has asked to borrow money from me and is thinking of taking out a loan.
I want to help, but I think part of this is her own fault. She needs to grow up and live within her means instead of trying to keep up with Dad and his wife. But telling her that would crush her. What can I do? — Worried
Dear Worried: There's only so much reassurance you can give Mom if she cannot overcome her insecurities. That might require professional help. But there is no reason to protect your sister from the difficulties she has caused. Tell her the wedding is a financial burden that Mom cannot manage, and ask her to cut back on her expenses or find another way to pay for the extra cost.
Dear Annie: My husband enjoyed sex when we had it, but I initiated every session. After five years, I started to feel as if I was begging for it and asked him to take the lead some of the time. He didn't.
For three more years, I told him it would thrill me to be approached by him, treated to dinner or have a little gift placed on my pillow — the kind of things I did for him. I finally convinced him to go for counseling, but my husband wouldn't do any of the things the counselor suggested. In desperation, I told him that if he wanted sex, he would have to initiate it.
That was seven years ago, and we haven't been intimate since. I can't divorce him because of my own physical problems. He says he loves me, but he's not willing to do anything for me. Any suggestions? — Another Sad Wife
Dear Sad: Other than making sure your husband has a thorough checkup, you might consider counseling for yourself. While you cannot force your husband to change, you can work on your own happiness. Our condolences.
Dear Annie: May I weigh in on whether or not to have flowers at a funeral? When my parents died, the flowers were deeply appreciated. They brightened the rooms where we had visitation and later at the church.
If someone wants to give to a charity, fine, but the flowers at my parents' funerals brought much more comfort to us than any of the donations, although the latter were surely well intended. — C.B.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. 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.