Dear Annie: My wife, "Kate," and I are in our early 40s and have been married for 15 years. We have two children.
Kate has a deeply troubling emotional dependence on her parents that shows no sign of changing. They wanted to come with us on our honeymoon, which I initially thought was a joke. It wasn't. I flatly refused, and Kate became angry.
Early in the marriage, I overlooked a lot of this overcloseness, because I thought she would eventually grow out of it when she became a wife and mother. But it hasn't happened. Kate calls her parents every day and discusses all of our personal issues with them. She has let me know that they come before the rest of us and always will.
We've tried counseling several times, but she cannot or will not change and it leaves me frustrated. The only reason I'm still in this marriage is because of my kids. I'm ready to find a girlfriend. What should I do? — Stuck in San Francisco
Dear Stuck: Finding a girlfriend will not ease the problem with your wife, so let's not do that. When someone marries, the spouse should always come before the parents, even though some parents don't like that and may, in fact, encourage the grown child to put them first. This is unfair to the child, keeping them infantilized and dependent. Kate wasn't mature enough to get married, but you expected her to change anyway.
The fact that Kate phones her parents daily is not a big deal. But discussing personal marital issues with them allows them to be a bigger part of your marriage than they should be, and Kate refuses to change that. You need to determine which aspects of this are worth being upset about, and which are unimportant to the basic well-being of your children and your marriage. Please get counseling, with or without Kate, so you can work on this.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Need Some Relief," the couple in their 70s who were tired of hosting all the holiday dinners.
When my mother got sick, my sisters chose to host the big twice-a-year family dinners. When Mom recovered, she still didn't feel up to cooking for an army of children and grandchildren, so we did a potluck-style dinner. The sisters who keep kosher were in charge of cooking the turkey and other major dishes. My brother and I (who don't keep kosher) brought raw ingredients and cooked at Mom's. Of course, we all cleaned up after.
We estimated the cost of all the ingredients and divided it equally. (Middle children are very stuck on "fair.") Mom provided the location, plates, cups, etc. Mom said the only downside was that she didn't have leftovers for the rest of the week. — Huntington, Massachusetts
Dear Huntington: Thank you for pointing out how well things can turn out when everyone pitches in and no one expects Mom (or anyone else) to do all the heavy lifting. You found a way to make it work.
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.