Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Trying To Be Patient in Phoenix

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My husband and I have two children and have been married for nine years. He also has a 15-year-old son from a previous marriage who lives with his mother not too far away.

I have never enjoyed living in Arizona and have wanted to move for several years. My husband promised that we would move one day, but every time the subject comes up, he tells me he just can't stand to leave his son.

I have been understanding for over 10 years, but I want my husband to think about what's best for our family. He made the choice to create a new family, and with that comes responsibility to us. Am I being selfish, or should my husband realize that he has another family now and it's time to move on? -- Trying To Be Patient in Phoenix

Dear Phoenix: There is no point in time at which your husband stops being a father to his 15-year-old son. Your two children are not his only family, nor are your children more important to him than his older son. The sooner you accept that, the better. (Imagine the shoe on the other foot.) We commend Dad for being a conscientious father to ALL his children, and we urge you not to make yourself an impediment to any of those relationships.

We're sorry you don't like Arizona, although most denizens love it there. If you have your heart set on moving, we recommend waiting until your stepson is 18, possibly away at college, when Dad's involvement will be less hands-on.

Dear Annie: Last week, my brother and his fiancee, "Alexis," informed me that they planned to invite my mother to celebrate Christmas at their house. They live a mere 20 minutes from where my husband and I will be celebrating with my in-laws.

This evening, I received an e-mail from Alexis stating that Mom turned down their invitation because she "needs to spend those days wrapping presents" and preparing for our visit shortly after Christmas.

My husband insists it is my place to ask Mom why she feels gift-wrapping is more important than getting to know her future daughter-in-law and her family. I say, if Alexis and my brother are upset, they should talk to Mom directly. I was never involved in the invitation in the first place and don't think I should get into it at this point. Now, my husband isn't speaking to me. What should I do? -- Stressed Out


Dear Stressed Out: We don't understand why your husband is so absorbed by the drama going on between Alexis and your mother. Mom may be a bit nervous about dealing with a new daughter-in-law and her entire family, and doesn't need to be pressured into doing something she is uncomfortable with. You are right to stay out of it.

Dear Annie: I have an 11-year-old daughter, "Jeri." My mother-in-law, who lives out of state and has had little involvement in Jeri's life, recently asked us to send Jeri on a plane from Chicago to New York all by herself. Because of the new security rules, we cannot accompany her to the gate and she would have to find her way through both busy airports on her own.

When we declined, my mother-in-law said in a very snotty way, "Why are you punishing me for living out-of-state?" We told her she is more than welcome to come here and visit, but she said she couldn't do that. My wife offered to go with Jeri, so they all could spend time together, but Mom turned her down, saying she wanted some alone-time with her granddaughter.

Are we being unreasonable here, or is mom-in-law on another planet? -- John

Dear John: Airlines actually are quite helpful in making sure young children arrive at their destinations safely. However, your mother-in-law is refusing some fairly accommodating choices, and her stubbornness is peculiar and frustrating. You are the parents. You get to decide how your daughter spends her vacations.


"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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