Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Clean House in Pennsylvania

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I have been married for 25 years to "Betty," a beautiful, intelligent, caring woman from Greece. Our marriage has been good. We are financially solid, and we share values and interests.

I am 63 and retired. Betty still works, and she makes a good salary. I'm in reasonably good health, although the doctors say I have to watch my heart. I don't have the same energy I once did, and spending quiet time in my house has become important to me. I enjoy being able to focus my energies doing things on the weekends with Betty.

Here's the problem: Betty's parents still live in Greece and they are having financial difficulties. A couple of weeks ago, Betty informed me that her parents may have to come live with us. Annie, I enjoy having her parents visit, but it is difficult for me to host others for an extended period of time. Our house is not that big and we'd be on top of one another. We also live in a small town where there isn't much to do. I'd be with them in the house all day while Betty is at her office.

When I told Betty that I don't want her parents living here, she became terribly hurt and said she'd divorce me if it came to that. Am I wrong to want to spend my retirement years with my wife rather than care for her parents? -- Stuck in Upstate New York

Dear Stuck: Betty should not put her parents before you, but let's face it, she is attached to them and probably feels guilty for having moved away in the first place. You say you are financially comfortable. Can you and Betty help her parents afford an apartment or condo in a senior complex that is close to your home but allows all of you to remain independent? Her parents may prefer to be where they have space of their own, with activities that keep them busy and engaged. Try to get Betty to see this in a more positive light -- doing what's best for her parents while keeping her marriage intact.

Dear Annie: I am responding to the answer you gave to "Going Mad in Canada," who has been married for 30 years to a wife who stays home, doesn't clean and doesn't cook. You said she isn't likely to change after 30 years, and that he should find ways to cope, maybe hiring help, and cooking and cleaning only for himself, letting her do the same.


Are you out of your minds? He's supposed to go to work all day, come home to a lazy spouse, cook his own meals, wash his own clothes and clean the house? I had been living with this for 25 years, but I found the answer. I put a code on my TV, so it wouldn't turn on until I get home. Next, I canceled our internet service. I began eating by myself at restaurants, so I'd get a decent cooked meal. After about a month, she started cleaning and cooking.

Why should one spouse take all of the responsibility of bringing home the money, cleaning, cooking and washing clothes while the other spouse does nothing? -- Clean House in Pennsylvania

Dear Penn: Your marriage sounds like an unpleasant mismatch. But we can't argue with success, and this obviously was your way to "cope."


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. 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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