Dear Annie: My wife's parents are somewhat typical baby boomers. Enjoying the privileges of early retirement, they are extremely doting and generous grandparents. It has become a weekly tradition for them to pick up our children from school on Fridays and bring them home for a meal.
Here's the problem. When we get home from work, we are always happy to see our in-laws, but while we ask how their day was, they never ask about ours. For the last 10 days, my wife has called her mother and asked her how she is, and not once has her mother asked how we are.
I know this may seem silly. We just want to know if there is a delicate way of telling them it hurts our feelings when they don't seem to care enough to ask about us. We were also wondering if other readers have had similar experiences and how they have dealt with it. - How Are You in Montreal
Dear Montreal: Some parents believe their children should be concerned about their health and their activities because they are older. They do not feel obligated to reciprocate, because you are young and healthy. It's not an uncommon problem.
We suspect your in-laws have no idea how self-absorbed they seem. Your wife should simply say, "Mom and Dad, we know you care about us, so we would love it if you would occasionally ask how we are or how our day went." Some people need to be hit over the head.
Dear Annie: You've printed a lot of letters about wives who aren't interested in sex. They may have reasons other than not being in the mood.
In my case, my husband refuses to cut his hair, brush his teeth or bathe properly. In addition to this, he has lied to me about everything big and small since we were married over 30 years ago. He has no integrity and disappoints our children repeatedly by breaking promises and then insulting their intelligence by saying he never promised anything in the first place.
Men need to realize there is an emotional element to all relationships. I am not "holding out." I am turned off. And justifiably so. - Tried Everything to No Avail
Dear Tried Everything: It's true that a man who doesn't brush his teeth or bathe will find the home fires a lot less welcoming. And women usually connect sexual intimacy with loving feelings, and rotten behavior during the day can eliminate those feelings at bedtime. If you haven't tried counseling, please consider it - for yourself, if your husband won't go with you.
Dear Annie: My sympathies went out to "Trapped," who was struggling to gain cooperation from a sister in caring for her elderly father. My family faced similar struggles in caring for my mother when she had Alzheimer's.
Dementia afflicts not only the patient, but the family, and it can have a draining effect on the health and well-being of caregivers. There were six of us siblings, which made the shared load lighter, yet at times the differences of opinion created terrible difficulties. What worked best for us was recognizing that we could not dictate to one another how much we should give to Mother's care. We each had to make our own peace with what we were willing to give and to release our demands on each other. It was pointless and destructive to argue about equity. Our relationships with each other were too valuable to sacrifice.
The Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org) was enormously helpful with understanding dementia and care options for Mom, but also for ourselves as caregivers. Mom died last year, but our family life as siblings is stronger than ever. - Kathy in Cambridge, Mass.
Dear Kathy: Not all siblings can make those adjustments under stress, and we commend you and your family members for pulling through this difficult time with your relationship intact.
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.