Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 35 years. We were in our late 20s when we wed. I was living on my own, and she was living with her parents and brother in a filthy house.
My wife promised that our house would always be clean. But after 15 years, it started looking like her parents' house. She never throws anything away. I am retired and will toss things out while she is at work. Our only visitor is our daughter.
When my wife is home, she is glued to the TV, unless we are at the dinner table. I told her I'm ready to get rid of the cable box, but she said she would pay for it herself. I may take her up on that. Any suggestions will be appreciated. — Frustrated Husband
Dear Husband: Hoarding is a mental health issue. If your wife neither notices nor cares that you throw things away, it's possible she is simply too lazy to clean. Added to the way she was raised, her housekeeping is not that surprising. We trust you do your share of cleaning. So, let her pay for the cable TV, and use the money from your pocket to get some cleaning help. It will be one less thing to argue about.
Dear Annie: I see many letters from parents complaining that their adult kids have no time for them and they feel abandoned. These parents fail to look at the way they treated their children.
My parents were divorced when I was in my 30s. My mother was wonderful, and I am in constant contact with her. I go out of my way to visit, call and do all the needed home repairs requested of me.
My father, however, systematically demeaned and demoralized my brother and me. He had multiple affairs, some of which went on for decades. He was a miser with his money, giving my mom a ridiculously low "allowance" to support the household. He spent his time making us feel like we were bad people, always pointing out our faults.
He now is a lonely old man no one wants to be around. I often wonder whether he considers how he contributed to the estrangement. So a word to parents who complain about their adult kids not visiting or calling: Think about how you treated them. — Good Reason To Avoid
Dear Good Reason: It's true that many parents do a lousy job of raising their kids and then expect the children to be caring and devoted when they are older. And some children who are raised by indifferent or abusive parents still try to care for them later. But it is also true that children who are given everything, including affection, grow up to ignore their parents out of selfishness.
Life doesn't come with guarantees. Parents should raise their children with love, while guiding them toward independence and becoming contributing members of society. And while we can hope that they will take care of us when we need them, we should not assume it will happen. It's always wise to plan to take care of yourself.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Missing Dad," who didn't attend his father's funeral. I suspect there is more to it than his job. My husband and I are both self-employed and don't make any income if we're not at work, either. But customers are pretty understanding when family emergencies occur.
"Missing" is angry at Mom's reaction, but ignores the fact that his mother had just lost her husband. She needed her children there out of respect for their father and for her own support. His not going to the hospital or the funeral speaks volumes about his pre-existing relationship with his mother.
He made a mistake and needs to own it. He should forget about who's restoring the car and restore his family ties. — Intend To Be There
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. 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.