Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Old School

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My sister-in-law always makes comments about what I am eating. I keep myself trim and am careful about what I eat, but I don't deny myself.

Last week, we went to lunch at a favorite place, and I ordered a cheeseburger and fries. It is a lovely restaurant, and the servings are large. I always take half of my meal home, as it is too much for me to eat at one time. My sister-in-law said, "If they put something like that in front of me, I would get sick to my stomach immediately."

I have put up with her comments for many years, but that one upset me, especially since she said it while we were eating. Afterward, I wrote her a note stating that I am a widow and those lunches are my biggest meals of the day. She has a husband and, of course, fixes their largest meal in the evening. She no longer speaks to me. Was I wrong, or was she? -- Sister-in-Law

Dear Sister-in-Law: We think you are both too sensitive about inconsequential matters. Perhaps your sister-in-law is jealous that you can eat whatever you like and she cannot do the same. Perhaps there are other things about her that annoy you, and this was simply the last straw -- or vice versa. We think a good relationship with a sister-in-law should be preserved. Please apologize to her (not as a matter of right or wrong, but simply to start over), and say you are sorry things became so bitter and you'd like another chance. Then invite her to go someplace with you -- but perhaps not to a restaurant.

Dear Annie: For the past 20 years, my husband and I have gotten together with several other couples for one weekend a year to relax, play golf and share stores about our kids and grandkids. We rent a vacation house, and the few of us who live close to one another plan a fun game for the group to play on one of the evenings.

We recently held our annual retreat. On game night, we planned a gourmet dinner with cocktails, followed by the meal, followed by games. One member of our group noticed a couple from the house next door sitting on their porch, so he invited them to join us for drinks. As we were introducing ourselves, this same friend invited the couple to stay for dinner. After dessert, when we were ready to play games, this friend and his wife left us to go next door to have a drink. We waited more than an hour for them to return.

Do you feel this is appropriate behavior? -- Old School


Dear Old School: No. If your friends knew that other activities had been planned for that evening, they should have postponed the trip to the neighbors' place for when they had unscheduled time. This weekend had been reserved for your group. However, it also indicates that this particular friend was not terribly interested in the group game (or even the group company) and wanted to go elsewhere. After 20 years, it is not a negative reflection on anyone that things might need a new coat of paint. We suggest you poll the group and ask whether they'd like the activities to change. Others might have additional ideas.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from Sad Mother, whose 25-year-old son is depressed and suicidal but refuses therapy. Perhaps she can get him help through his primary care provider's office. Many primary care offices now have integrated care and employ psychiatric consultants. I work in a clinic that has licensed clinical social workers and a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Many family practice clinicians are comfortable with starting patients on antidepressants.

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I have had several patients tell me they never would have sought treatment through a psychiatric practice. -- Kentucky


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



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