Argument on the Front Burner
Dear Annie: I would like your opinion on a recent incident that happened to me. I went to my son's house to go out to dinner with him and his family to celebrate his birthday. When I arrived, the only person there was my granddaughter. My son was meeting us at the restaurant, and my daughter-in-law, "Jean," had been called into work but intended to be back at the house shortly. She still hadn't returned by the time my granddaughter and I had to head to the restaurant, and I noticed a pot of soup boiling on the stove. I thought Jean had forgotten to turn the burner off, so I turned it off.
Well, I was wrong. We all happened to return later at about the same time, and when Jean noticed the burner was off, she asked, "Who turned the stove off?" I told her I had. She looked very upset and said, "The soup was supposed to cook for 12 hours." I said, "Well, it is better to be safe than sorry."
Later, I asked my son whether Jean was still upset with me, and he said she had not been upset with me. I told him I could tell by the expression on her face that she was. He then said I should not have turned the burner off, that "it was her stove." I told him I was concerned the house might catch on fire, and he said that the house is her house and that if it had caught on fire, it would have been her concern. I do not like family discord, and I don't usually insert myself into their affairs, but I think that was a foolish thing to do and I acted appropriately by turning the stove off. What say you? -- Safety First
Dear Safety First: It's unsafe to leave a stove burning unattended. But if you keep treating this as an argument, things will get unnecessarily heated. Wait for things to simmer down before letting your son know about the fire safety issue, and erase all traces of "I told you so" from your tone. When the holidays roll around, consider buying them a slow cooker -- much safer to leave on for hours at a time.
Dear Annie: I love, love, love your column. I especially love that you listen to your readers and are willing to add to your answers and even alter your advice when given new information. My comment is about your response to "Missing Life and Happiness," who has been married for over 25 years to a man who turns his back on her in every way possible, basically treating her as a disgusting part of his life. I agree that she should focus on herself, enrich her life and improve her self-esteem. However, I believe she needs to do more than discuss issues with her husband. She has put up with this for too long. I don't believe she should waste even one more second allowing that evil person in her life. From her description, it doesn't sound possible for him to change how he treats her. It's time to remove him and move on! -- Jane G.
Dear Jane: You're not the only reader who thought I should have told "Missing Life and Happiness" that enough was enough. I wanted to let her reach her own decision about her marriage, and I was trying to encourage her to get into a good headspace for evaluating things. Perhaps I should have worded my response more strongly, as I agree with you: The way her husband has been treating her is unacceptable. Thank you for writing.
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