Life Advice



Seeking Harmony in the Household

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I have been married for 23 years. This is the second marriage for both of us.

My wife has a couple of so-called friends who I have bad vibes about. In the first case, her friend "Carolyn" called my father a loser. I told her off, and when my wife questioned her, she denied it, and then my wife accused me of being a liar. She said that Carolyn doesn't lie. My wife doesn't understand why I refuse to socialize with Carolyn and her husband.

With respect to my wife's family, I have had conflict with her two sisters. In a recent visit, her sibling did not say anything to me when we were at our hotel room. My spouse said nothing on my behalf. Her other sister had a wedding for one of her daughters. When she saw me at the gathering, I attempted to initiate conversation, and she displayed a hostile attitude toward me, which included the father of the bride as well. My wife, again, said nothing to her about it. The explanation was that she was who she was and I have to accept that.

What is the best remedy for such? -- A Concerned Husband

Dear Concerned Husband: The best remedy for this situation is to avoid situations as much as possible with your wife's friend Carolyn or with her sisters. But don't in any way try to limit the time your wife spends with her friends or sisters. Just because you don't like them doesn't mean your wife has to not like them. She can decide with whom she spends her time, just like you can decide who you spend time with.

Have another conversation with your wife about how her sister's and Carolyn's actions made you feel. Maybe then she can talk to her sister and Carolyn so that if you all encounter each other again, you can treat each other with respect for the sake of your wife. I'm sure this whole situation puts your wife in a tough position, and finding a little more peace among her husband, friends and family will make her happier.

Dear Annie: I'm writing in response to the letter from "Missing My Things," the woman whose husband kept throwing away her belongings. My husband and I have a similar issue, to a lesser degree. He is a hoarder, not of trash, but he fills all available space with items so that we don't have room to use our space. I am a neat freak. Tidiness helps me cope with my anxiety problems. I felt suffocated by his mess. I felt like I could not function. I began to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.


When I complained angrily, he heard it as moodiness, because he thought his behavior was reasonable. When we had been married several years, after counseling, I was able to communicate how it makes me feel, and he made an effort to change his behavior.

We have managed to make a life in which we both feel comfortable and we minimize fighting by using simple geography. He is free to hoard as much as he wants in the garage and in the room he uses as his office, and I am free to tidy the rest of the house as much as I like, as long as I put his items in his office rather than throwing them away.

In fact, I started by asking for just one room with no stuff, and little by little he made more rooms available. My suggestion for "Missing My Things" would be to establish these types of boundaries for both parties and to try to get her husband to talk about his needs. -- Neat Freak

Dear Neat Freak: Thank you for your inspiring letter. It shows that when you put in the time to work on your marriage and come up with a compromise that makes both of you content in your own home, good things happen. Congratulations on a job well done.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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