Dear Annie: Since my grandpa died last year, Grandma enjoys having others take care of her. She is quite healthy for her age (79) and even holds down a part-time job. The problem is that my mother gives in to every one of Grandma's whims.
Mom takes Grandma out to eat every night, lets her stay over on weekends, and sacrifices every free moment to do whatever Grandma wants. Mom refuses to speak up, even when she is exhausted, because she's afraid Grandma "will never accept help again."
Mom wants Grandma to be happy, which I commend her for, but I think she's contributing to Grandma's decline. My grandmother now believes she is incapable of fixing herself something to eat, and even though she drives to work, she's convinced she'd never make it to the nearest take-out place. Grandma also refuses to exercise, which her doctor said she must do. She won't even walk across a parking lot.
I think this is unhealthy. My mom is not only sacrificing her health, but also her relationship with me, in order to do everything for someone who can do for herself. Why can't she sometimes say "no"? — Raised Independent
Dear Raised: Try to understand that Mom is worried about Grandma, realizes their time together is getting shorter, and wants to do as much as possible for her while she can. Instead of competing for your mother's time and attention, offer to help out. Mom will appreciate it.
Also, suggest to Mom that she talk to Grandma's doctor about the appropriate level of activity for her. Mom is more likely to listen to a professional.
Dear Annie: As soon as I saw the letter from "Unhappy and Lonely Soldier in Iraq," I knew where he was coming from. He said his wife wasn't intimate with him anymore and spent a lot of money while he was gone.
I, too, was in Iraq for a year. My wife, however, was depressed and wouldn't spend a dime. All spouses cope differently. As to the lack of intimacy, he should have his wife go to the local base hospital and have them check her thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. My wife was diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid, and our sex life was just like his. In most cases, it is treatable. — Soldier Who Is Happy With His Wife
Dear Soldier: You are right — everyone copes differently. Here's more:
From Vilseck, Germany: I have been in the military 10 years and have seen many soldiers go through the spending sprees, overlooked anniversaries, fights and infidelity that seem to be a well-known, if unadvertised, part of military service. I, too, experienced difficulty in my Bosnia deployment, which resulted in divorce. I have since remarried and just returned from 15 months in Iraq, all without marital problems. We have open and honest communication, and also have set up separate accounts that will shield a service member from binge spending by a spouse. I know soldiers whose spouses spent all their money, yet I paid cash for a new Porsche because my wife and I planned ahead.
Germany: I am a government contractor, married for 11 years to a woman who spent money frivolously, was rarely intimate and ignored sensible suggestions. We eventually divorced. A short time later, she was diagnosed as bipolar. Since then, with counseling and medication, she has changed dramatically for the better. "Unhappy Soldier" should have his wife evaluated as soon as possible. If my letter can save just one marriage, I will be very pleased.
Dear Readers: This is a good time to mention that Thursday, Oct. 6, is National Depression Screening Day. If you or anyone you love is suffering from post-partum disorder, bipolar disease, post-traumatic stress syndrome or any other form of depression, please call 1-800-437-1200 (www.mentalhealthscreening.org) for a free, confidential screening.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. 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.