Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Tired of Losing to an Old Flame

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I have been married to "Ellen" for seven years, and we recently moved back to her hometown. Apparently, she left behind an old boyfriend. They were teenagers "in love." Ellen was repeatedly unfaithful, and the boyfriend tried to break things off. But Ellen always manipulated him into saying he would love her forever. At some point, he gave her a promise ring.

She continued cheating on him and never took responsibility, instead blaming her parents or drugs. I knew about the drugs, but the game-playing was only recently revealed to me by Ellen's friends and relatives. Had I been aware of that side of her personality, I probably wouldn't have married her. But three kids later, I love her dearly.

Ellen has some insecurity issues, and I am constantly reminding her how much she means to me. But what really bothers me is that she sought out the ex-boyfriend and has started corresponding with him. Her emails are full of lies. The ex tried to extricate himself when his wife became concerned, but Ellen turned into her old vindictive, manipulative self.

When I confronted her, she insisted that she loves me, and that she ended the emails, but now there are strange numbers on our cellphones and her computer. I feel betrayed. Do I give up on my marriage? Do I confront the other guy and let him know how deceitful Ellen has been? She has emotional problems, and I fear this will send her back into the drug world. I am afraid to leave my kids home with her, so I have asked friends and family to stop by often. Ellen refuses counseling, so now I'm seeing a therapist behind her back.

People online can be whoever they want you to think they are, but you really have no clue. -- Tired of Losing to an Old Flame

Dear Tired: Ellen sounds emotionally unstable, not to mention untrustworthy. Leave the boyfriend out of it, and concentrate on your wife. She's a mess and needs help. Please don't wait until your children suffer. Insist that Ellen see a therapist, not only to save your marriage, but to save herself.

Dear Annie: My sister and I attended my granddaughter's wedding last October. My sister asked whether I'd given the couple any money, and I said, "No, I already sent them a nice gift." She said she gave them $300 and that I should do the same. She phoned repeatedly, asking whether I sent the check. I finally told her yes so she would leave me alone.


Today she called saying she'd asked my granddaughter whether she had received a check from me. Of course, she had not. My sister is still insisting I send them money, and I don't know what to say to keep the peace. -- Did My Part Already

Dear Did: Tell your sister you are NOT going to send another gift because you already sent one. Repeat as often as necessary until she gets the message. But you might apologize to your granddaughter for the misunderstanding.

Dear Annie: "Worn-Out Mom" wanted to get her son into a prestigious school that requires room and board (tuition is covered), but her ex-husband refuses to help pay for it. The father may be legally required to pay for his son's education. Whether there is a duty to pay for a private school depends on the specific facts of the case and the laws of the state where the children and parents reside. -- Attorney from Gettysburg, Penn.

Dear Attorney: Thanks for your expertise. We hope she checks out the possibility with her lawyer.


"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



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