Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Grossed Out in Virginia

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My wife, "Jackie," and I are very happy together, except for one thing -- my mother.

When I met Jackie, she was a single mom of a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, and had a past she is not proud of. However, her honesty, combined with the steps she took to make herself a better person, allowed me to see her as the loving, responsible person she has since become. I thought my mother would agree, but I was gravely wrong.

Mom treats Jackie horribly. She even admitted that she tried to "protect" me by making things so unbearable that Jackie would leave. It almost worked, but I promised Jackie I would no longer allow Mom to interfere, and I have kept my word. Despite all this, Jackie always has encouraged me to maintain a good relationship with my mother.

A few weeks ago, Mom invited herself to visit for Christmas. When I told her we still had some issues to resolve first, Mom began verbally trashing my wife. Jackie told Mom that if her nasty behavior didn't change, she could no longer see the kids. What ensued was a screaming match, followed by hundreds of pages of hurtful e-mails from Mom, insinuating that I was choosing my wife over her.

Annie, no matter how bad things get, we would never deprive our children of a grandmother's love. (Mom has indeed been a wonderful grandma.) Jackie has e-mailed Mom to explain, but it hasn't helped. Mom has since returned to me every item I've given her, including pictures of my wedding day and my baby girl being born. She insists Jackie is ruining my life and cried that she may as well kill herself.

I now think it might be in my children's best interest to have no contact with someone who hates their mother so deeply. I can't be sure Mom won't say vindictive things about Jackie to the kids. I am in counseling now, but please help. -- Canada

Dear Canada: Let's clear up one thing first -- you ARE choosing your wife over your mother, and that's the way it should be. Jackie and your children are your first priority, and Mom is going to have to learn to accept that.

Mom needs to know you mean what you say. Call her and make it clear, calmly, that either she respects your marriage, or she will see the children only under your supervision, if at all. Do not argue with her or raise your voice. If she says one bad word about Jackie, say goodbye and hang up the phone. Do not respond to her vitriolic e-mails. She will come around or she won't, but the choice will be hers.


Dear Annie: I work in an office of mostly women. One of the few men has a chronic sniffle and snort and makes these grotesque noises throughout the day, which makes eating lunch in the same room nauseating. Worse, he also picks at his nose constantly and "adjusts himself" without taking our presence into consideration.

We have pointed out these behaviors to him, and he says, "You'll get over it." Is there anything more we can do? -- Grossed Out in Virginia

Dear Virginia: The chronic sniffle (and corresponding snort) is probably allergies. Suggest that he see his doctor. Since you've tried talking to him directly, the next step is complaining to human resources or to a supervisor about the "adjustments," which may fall under "sexual harassment." Avoid him at lunch, if possible. That's about it.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Lonely and Frustrated," the widow going with the 68-year-old man who wouldn't have sex without marriage but didn't want to get married. I had the same problem, so my pastor performed a "commitment ceremony." We said vows, and we feel we are married in the eyes of God, even though our marriage is not legally recognized. -- Happy and Fulfilled

Dear Happy: Many readers suggested this helpful solution. (Be aware, however, that in many states, living together is considered common-law marriage.)


"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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