Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Stuck in the Midwest

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I married "Oliver" 20 year ago, and we moved to a small Midwestern city where Oliver was offered a well-paying job. I'm impressed with my husband's "staying power" and am proud that he's been able to keep this job through thick and thin. However, his pay leveled out a few years ago, and he hasn't had an appreciable raise in many years. Our cost of living, however, has increased.

This is not an area where I can easily find a job in my chosen career. I've been fortunate to be able to work from home while raising our children, but the oldest will be out of high school in June. I've been unhappy here the entire time we've lived in this town. It's a declining area, there is no job growth, and travel can be impossible in the winter because of the snow and ice.

I've tried to "grow where I'm planted," getting involved in the community and the school, but I'm dying on the vine. I've had enough. I want to move to a more vibrant area, a better climate, and a place where I have more employment options. Oliver, however, has no interest in relocating.

I want to be out of here within five years, when our youngest child finishes high school. But Oliver is a homebody and doesn't like change. We can't afford a second home or an annual winter vacation. If Oliver won't go, I'm considering leaving on my own. I've put in my time, and he's had his career. When is it my turn? -- Stuck in the Midwest

Dear Stuck: You have five years to get Oliver ready for a change of scenery. Start to research areas that appeal to you and that also offer job opportunities for Oliver. Look into housing prices, cost of living and community organizations. Try to take at least one vacation in the area to see whether it meets your expectations. Then inform Oliver that this is where you would like to move and when. Bring it up every few months, showing him your "new neighborhood" and the things you will do there. Make it familiar to him, and he will be more amenable to going there.

Dear Annie: I am a great-grandmother who left an abusive husband in the 1960s. My children were sexually abused by him. We have all been in counseling. I have uncovered intergenerational abuse in both my family and my ex-husband's family. Domestic abuse has also been found in the homes of my children and grandchildren.

I am presently doing all I can to protect the great-grandchildren. My ex-husband is planning a trip to see the family, and I have warned all the parents not to leave their children alone with him and explained why. He may be 80, but he is still capable of offending. As loving grandparents, we must do all we can to protect the children. The healing is long-term. -- BC Canada


Dear Canada: Your family seems to have had some major issues with abuse that have persisted through the generations. We are glad all of you have had counseling. You also are wise to protect the great-grandchildren from your ex-husband, even though such information is often difficult to convey and believe.

Dear Annie: Your answer to "Brokenhearted in Florida" was much too nice. I don't know what her circumstances were when she gave up her son, but to give up a child at age 4 is pretty harsh. Telling him he should have contacted her sooner is just an excuse to avoid contact and is so cruel that I can't wrap my head around it.

It can take years to track down birth parents. "Brokenhearted" sounds like a cold woman without empathy. Maybe she deserves to feel a small bit of what her son has been feeling all these years. -- Stunned in Pittsburgh


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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