Dear Annie: I have been friends with "Rhonda" for decades. She has always been a dear friend, but lately, she seems to have no sympathy for anyone. Either that, or she is so angry with me that she has become disrespectful. I don't know why, and it is having a very negative affect on our relationship.
Recently, I was ill. I did not inform Rhonda, nor was I asking for her assistance. She happened to call asking for a ride to a concert and proceeded to ridicule me for being sick. Since I am a physician, she apparently thinks I should avoid all illness. Then she said I must be sick because I am getting old, which I found neither comforting nor helpful, and rather rude.
Last week, a dear friend died. Rhonda didn't know this person well, but they did live in a neighboring condo. After the funeral, my husband and I were invited to Rhonda's home for dinner. I brought along the rather distinguished obituary and order of service, because I thought Rhonda might be interested. Instead, she said my friend's children were ugly and make too much noise on their balcony, and added a few unkind remarks about my friend's wife. Aside from all of these remarks being irrelevant and untrue, they were also rude and disrespectful.
Rhonda's husband, children and grandchildren are close to me. I don't want to lose this friendship. What would you do in my shoes? — Upset in Montreal
Dear Upset: We would talk to Rhonda and ask whether she is feeling OK and if she has seen her doctor lately. Any change in personality can be from medical causes. You also can express your concern to her husband and children and ask whether they have seen negative changes in Rhonda's behavior.
Otherwise, good friends are honest, while being compassionate. Tell Rhonda, nicely, that you find her remarks surprisingly unkind and disrespectful. Ask whether there is more going on that is causing her stress or unhappiness. She may have issues that are not connected to you, but which are causing her pain that she is taking out on those closest to her.
Dear Annie: For a number of years, I worked with a man who shared words of wisdom spoken to him on his wedding day. His brand new father-in-law told him that he could either be right or he could be happy, but not both.
So my pal developed a reply to his wife which went something like this: "You're right, Honey, I don't know how you put up with me. I'm a jerk." He realized early on that he didn't have to "win" an argument. Instead he "won" his happiness. Arguments solve nothing. A difference of opinion is OK. If two people always agree, then only one of them is doing their own thinking.— Now I Know
Dear Now: While we realize that many husbands find this advice to be worthwhile, we find it a bit condescending to women. But you are absolutely right that many arguments can be resolved if one party simply says, "You're right. I'm sorry." And it doesn't matter which person.
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.