Dear Annie: My brother and I are both in our 60s, and we phone each other regularly.
My problem is, over the years, I have been fortunate and, though not wealthy, am pretty well-off. My brother, however, has barely eked out a living for himself and his wife.
When he called the other day to see what I was up to, I didn't want to say that I had been buying a rental property. I don't know how to discuss this with him without seeming as though I'm bragging or putting him down for not being as successful. Any hints? — Lucky Brother
Dear Lucky: Your brother surely knows that you have more money than he does. He may, in fact, enjoy hearing about the things you are able to buy. There may be some envy, naturally, but not as much as you think. As long as you aren't boasting, he may not begrudge you or your fortune. You don't have to tell him everything, but it's OK to say that you bought a new home, car or other major purchase. He wouldn't want to be kept in the dark about these things. Once in a while, you could even ask him what he thinks, provided you truly listen. He is your brother and you seem to be close. You can ask him how he feels about this, saying you cherish the relationship and don't want to do anything to jeopardize it.
Dear Annie: I was married the first time for 23 long years and I could do nothing right, no matter how hard I tried. I worked full-time, was a soccer mom and yet dinner better be on the table at 5:30, or else. If he wiped his hands over the furniture and found dust, then I was put in my place.
Fast forward to my second marriage, now going on 20 years. The pattern hasn't changed. We get along great for quite a while, but if I try to fix a special meal, he does his best to ruin the evening. Today, I made pasta salad and had saved up for two steaks that I barbecued to perfection. What does he say? "This is too much. My steak has fat on it. I don't like pasta salad." I am an excellent cook, by the way.
What am I doing wrong? I am in my 60s now and can't get it right. I am just so tired of this. — Sick of Men Complaining
Dear Sick: When someone repeats the same negative pattern, it helps to look at yourself. You seem to be attracted to men who are picky and demanding, so you can prove you are good enough to please them. Then you turn yourself inside out for someone who will never find you adequate. Stop letting others treat you like a doormat. If you want to cook a special meal, do it for yourself. If he complains, tell him he can cook his own meal and see if it's better. Standing up for yourself can be satisfying, as well as empowering. Get counseling if you can't figure it out on your own.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. 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.