Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 30 years. When our oldest son left for college, my wife began using his bedroom for storage. It gradually filled with clothes, papers and things my wife bought from TV shopping shows. Soon, there was barely a path to the bed. It happened again when our second child left. Now both bedrooms are jammed so full that you can barely open the doors. Our attic is overflowing, and we rent two storage spaces.
My wife is now stacking stuff in our bedroom. I cannot get her to sort through things. She says she will do it "when the weather is better" or "when I have time," but she never does.
I fear my wife has some form of OCD. I am considering tossing stuff myself the next time she takes a trip to visit one of our children. If I throw away the junk, how will she react? I cannot live like this. — Drowning in Junk
Dear Drowning: Your wife is a hoarder. It's possible this was kicked into high gear by the stress of her children leaving the nest, but if it is getting progressively worse, she needs to seek treatment. However, unless she agrees to it beforehand, we don't recommend you toss things out while she is away. Instead, call your doctor and ask for a referral to a mental health specialist. You also can contact the International OCD Foundation (ocfoundation.org) for more information.
Dear Annie: For some reason, it has become common for people to bring their dogs when visiting, even if the visit is for as little as an hour. Some people won't come if they cannot bring the dog. Please print my list of what not to do when visiting with your dog:
1. Do not allow your dog to jump on my furniture.
2. If your dog does his business outside, clean up his mess.
3. Do not let your dog eat off of my china or snatch food from the table.
4. Do not expect me to put my cats outside because they do not get along with your dog.
5. If your dog is outside, do not let him scratch at my door or windows.
6. Just because I permit you to bring your dog, do not assume it is because I really like the animal. It is solely because I value your friendship more than I dislike your dog. I never let my children misbehave at someone's house, and I expect your dogs to behave equally well.
I used to have dogs, but I would never dream of taking them to someone else's home unless specifically invited to do so. — Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: Some folks consider their animal companions to be their "children" and expect others to treat them accordingly. But this is an unwarranted assumption. It is important to first ask whether it is OK to bring a pet, and if the answer is "no," respond graciously and make other arrangements.
Dear Annie: You recently published a letter from "A Lucky and Appreciative Married Man" and suggested that any reader who wanted to give the impression that they wrote it do so. My husband circled the column and left it out for me to see with a handwritten note saying he didn't write it but "should have." It made me stop to appreciate that he really means it when he frequently tells me how lucky he is.
We've been together for "only" 25 years, and it has been more than wonderful. The trials and tribulations have been nothing compared to the good times and memories. I hope the next 25 years don't go by as fast.
It takes two to make a relationship work. As the wife of another lucky man, I am fortunate to have such a great partner in this life. — Staatsburg, N.Y. Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.