Annie's Mailbox: Paying the Price for the Ex
Dear Annie: I am married to "Chris," a wonderful man. He was previously married and has major trust issues because of his ex-wife. I can handle most of this, but one thing has become worse over the past two years.
Chris has this idea that I wear outfits that show too much skin and attract other men. But, Annie, I don't wear clothes like that. In fact, I gave away whatever I used to own that he didn't like (spaghetti straps, skirts above the knee, etc.). But he still says I look "too provocative." I wear only pants and high-necked shirts with sleeves, but it's still not appropriate enough for him. I offered to let him shop for me, but he refuses.
I don't want to keep fighting about something so dumb -- and that I know is due to his cheating ex-wife. But I have done as much as possible to show him I love and respect him. What more can I do? -- Paying the Price for the Ex
Dear Paying: Chris has become obsessed with controlling your appearance, and this is unhealthy. Right now, it wouldn't matter what you wore. Since he is getting worse, we strongly urge you to get some professional counseling, preferably together. Chris must learn to keep a lid on his insecurities so he can function more rationally, and a counselor will help you work on coping skills. If he doesn't get a grip on this, it could escalate into something that threatens not only your marriage, but also your personal well-being.
Dear Annie: My younger sister, "Debbie," is planning a fall wedding. Our father and his wife have been severely addicted to pain pills for most of their 20-year marriage. They have attended birthday parties, barbeques and weddings completely looped. It's not a pretty sight. Because of this (and other reasons), I chose to distance myself and have had little contact with them for 10 years. A few years ago, Debbie did the same because she was tired of being embarrassed, worried, stressed and scared for their health.
Debbie doesn't want to invite Dad to the wedding. She didn't even want him to know about it, but he found out from other relatives. She shouldn't have to worry about whether Dad is going to fall down at the ceremony because he is high, or whether he can keep his balance while being introduced to her new in-laws. Is this the right decision? -- Bride's Sister
Dear Sister: Debbie does not have to invite Dad if doing so will spoil her day and make her miserable, but she should take responsibility for her decision and tell him the reason. However, there is another possible solution. She could enlist the help of a reliable guest (or hire a professional sober companion) to be the "caregiver" for Dad and his wife, making sure they don't get out of control and create a scene. Other readers have done this and found it quite helpful.
Dear Annie: The letter from "Mom in Connecticut" brought back wonderful memories regarding thank-you notes.
I am one of four children, now in our 50s and 60s. When we were younger, our parents had a hard and fast rule: We could play with or wear our gifts on the day we received them, but we could not touch them again until we had written our thank-you notes. Mom provided the notes and colored pencils, so that we could draw pictures until we were old enough to write more. This started when we were so young that we never knew any different.
To this day, I send a handwritten thank-you note. I figure the gift-giver spent time and effort to select, purchase and send a gift to me. The least I can do to show my appreciation is send a personal note on real stationery. As my parents used to say, it's what nice people do. -- Born in Connecticut, Now in Arizona
"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 www.creators.com.