Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Nearing the End of My Rope

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: When my wife and I married, she requested that I avoid conflict with her manipulative stepfather so that she could maintain a relationship with her mother. I consented to her request.

However, her stepfather's abusive demeanor got worse until, at a dinner party my wife hosted, he made several crude and base statements about my wife and the legitimacy of our infant son. I asked him to leave, and we actually had to have the security staff escort him off the property.

Over the next few months, this man engaged in criminal harassment, and we got a restraining order. We then discovered there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest in another state. He now is serving a prison sentence.

My mother-in-law blames me for her husband's incarceration. She has made it clear that she will not tolerate my presence at family events, nor am I to be mentioned in her presence.

My wife is very close to her family, especially her mother. At her frequent family events, she either goes without me or does not go. I encourage her to go alone, but at the same time, I am starting to feel like a leper. I don't want to force my wife to choose between her mother and me, but I am unsure how many more solitary holidays I can endure. -- Nearing the End of My Rope

Dear Nearing the End: Your wife already has chosen -- poorly. She needs to make it clear to her relatives that YOU are her family now and should be attending these holiday events with her. We suggest you plan a few affairs at your house so the other relatives can visit both of you. If Mom chooses not to attend, so be it. If your wife misses her mother, she should make plans to see her at other times.

Dear Annie: My wife and I were looking forward to our 50th wedding anniversary. We are a very social-minded family and have celebrated all our children's occasions with parties. We even mortgaged our house so one of them could have a grand wedding. However, our anniversary has not been acknowledged with any kind of celebration by our children.

One child is estranged, and another has five times our income. We don't want any lavish treatment. All we wanted was for them to host a party with donations for hurricane victims in lieu of gifts.

We are totally crushed by our children's ingratitude. I feel like a hypocrite every time I talk to them and not mention how they have hurt us. Do you know how it feels to see in the newspapers, day after day, photographs of couples reaching their 50th anniversary, stating, "They were honored by their children at a party"? What should I do? -- Dishonored Father


Dear Dishonored: Your children are accustomed to having parents who plan all the parties and take care of all the expenses. Not to mention the estranged child and the reasons behind that. Your children do not owe you a party, but there's no reason you cannot tell them that it hurt to be so completely overlooked on this milestone. ("How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child.")

Dear Annie: "Stressed Out" wrote that her mother decided to stay home and wrap packages rather than have Christmas with her son and his fiancee at their house.

A fiancee is not the same as a daughter-in-law. My mother-in-law disapproved of her 50-year-old, divorced daughter living with a man without benefit of marriage. She felt they were living in sin and refused to spend the night in the same house until they married.

"Stressed Out" and her husband should just stay out of this, as you advised. -- Better Not Use My Name

Dear Better Not: Disapproval is always a possibility, although it didn't seem so in this particular instance. Still, you could be right. Thanks for writing.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




Wallace The Brave Dog Eat Doug Caption It Cathy David Horsey Flo & Friends