Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Better Practice Your Heimlich Maneuver

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I have been married to "Jerry" for 10 years. We each have adult daughters from previous relationships.

Jerry has a peculiar relationship with his daughter, "Serena." She was taken from him by her mother at a very early age, and he did not see her again until she was 13. At age 15, she got into a fight with her mother and came to live with Jerry. He and his roommate allowed the girl to drink liquor and use their car. At some point, she was found in Jerry's bed having sex with a strange man. She also ran up $1,000 in telephone charges calling her boyfriend back home.

When Serena went back to Mom, I moved in with Jerry. But Serena would call at all hours of the night. When she had another fight with Mom, Jerry invited her back without asking me. I put a lock on the phone, and Serena became angry and returned to Mom. After that, her relationship with Jerry was on-and-off for 10 years.

Jerry now visits Serena and her young son twice a year for six weeks at a time, which drives me nuts. I find her to be manipulative and toxic and don't care to deal with her. Last month, Jerry insisted I talk to her when she phoned at 3 a.m., and all she did was scream at me for 30 minutes. Jerry backed her up.

I told Jerry that Serena needs to apologize. I am upset by the way Jerry behaves toward her. When she is ill, he waits on her hand and foot, but when I was in a motorcycle crash, he expected me to get up and cook dinner. Jerry screams at me, yet he is all sweetness when speaking to Serena. He does nothing around the house other than take out the garbage, while I work full time, and all he does is criticize me. He wants me to embrace Serena the way he does, but I cannot do it. I'm depressed and miserable. What should I do? -- Second Place

Dear Second: Jerry has put Serena first, which means he will always take her side in any argument with you, and she knows it. Don't expect any apologies. The question is what to do about your marriage, which sounds unhappy and stressful. Get some counseling, with or without Jerry, and figure out whether you are better off with or without him.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Cringing in Exercise Class," who complained about a woman who chewed gum during classes. I'm surprised the instructor allows it. It is a safety hazard. The woman could inhale the gum and get it stuck in her windpipe.


I bet the insurance company that covers the exercise facility would put an end to anyone chewing gum posthaste. -- Better Practice Your Heimlich Maneuver

Dear Better: You make an excellent point that we had not considered. With the amount of exertion and breathing one does during exercise, the gum could easily end up where it shouldn't. Thanks for weighing in.

Dear Readers: We are carrying on Ann Landers' tradition that April 2 be set aside as Reconciliation Day, a time to make the first move toward mending broken relationships. It also would be the day on which we agree to accept the olive branch extended by a former friend or estranged family member and do our best to start over.


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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