Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Frustrated in Chicago

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My sister, "Shania," has been married for six years to "Al" (a second marriage for both, no children). During the entire duration of their marriage, Shania has complained about the lack of affection and sex.

Recently, Shania was diagnosed with a serious back problem that required three operations. As a result, she is permanently restricted, which is difficult for her, because she always has been a very active person. Due to the medication she takes, our entire family is concerned about Shania's decision-making abilities, and we also are concerned that Al is taking advantage of the situation.

When they married, Al had some financial troubles, but Shania was financially well-off and paid for the wedding. After that, Al struggled at the company where he worked and Shania helped him start his own business. Since then, Al has purchased expensive cars, computers, furniture and other electronic equipment for his company.

They have moved twice into homes that Al wanted. Recently, Al remodeled the family room to fit around a flat-screen TV with custom speakers. Shania has no interest in any of this, but Al initially wanted a 30-foot boat (he has never sailed). Shania reluctantly said no, and Al pouted so much that Shania didn't object to the new family room, hoping it would appease him.

Al has been talking about moving again. Can we help Shania see that Al is just using her? -- Frustrated in Chicago

Dear Frustrated: It sounds as if Al and Shania have had this same dynamic for years, with or without medication.

It's obvious that you do not like your brother-in-law, but Shania is not incompetent. If she loves Al, in spite of his parasitical pecuniary habits, that is her choice. What she really needs is your emotional support. If she decides to move, offer to help pack. If she seems reluctant to give up her home, suggest that she talk to a counselor about the strain she's been under. Do not bad-mouth Al. It won't help.

Dear Annie: I am a 14-year-old girl, and I have a curfew problem. On weekends during the school year, I have to be in the house by 7 p.m., and during vacations, it's 8 p.m. I am a good student, and I've never gotten into trouble. I know kids need rules, but don't you think this is a little harsh? -- Wondering in North Dakota

Dear North Dakota: Yes, a bit. If you are in high school, your curfew can surely be increased by one hour on the weekends, and possibly more during vacation. Talk to your parents and ask what you can do to gain an extension. Good luck.


Dear Annie: I don't know a better way to get this information out to the public than through your column.

When someone is injured, paramedics often turn to a victim's cell phone for clues to that person's identity. You can make their job easier by adopting the ICE system. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency.

Here's how it works: For those people you want contacted in an emergency, add entries under ICE-Mom or ICE-Husband's Name, along with the phone number. Most paramedics know what ICE means, and they will look for it. This not only saves them a lot of time, but it means your loved ones are contacted quickly.

Tell your readers to ICE their cell phones NOW. -- Karen M.

Dear Karen: We think this is an excellent idea that should be adopted everywhere. We understand it was conceived back in April by Bob Brotchie, a British paramedic, and gained momentum after the recent bombings in London. (It also is recommended that you keep your ICE list regularly updated so the paramedics don't accidentally call your ex.)


"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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