Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2008 12:00 am
Dear Annie: I am a 22-year-old college-educated woman preparing to marry my high-school sweetheart. My parents divorced when I was 11 years old. My father had been emotionally and physically abusive toward my mother. My younger sister and I stayed with Dad in order to continue going to our local school, but we witnessed many nasty arguments about custody arrangements and support money.
My father became physically and emotionally abusive toward my sister and me, and we had to get the police involved. We decided to move to our mother’s house and things were dramatically better. I haven’t spoken to or visited my father in two years after a phone call that ended with me crying uncontrollably. In an attempt to make my sister and me feel guilty for his failures, he sent a letter blaming us for not having a relationship with him.
Despite the emotional and hurtful phone calls, the guilt and the depression, I’m ready to forgive him. I’m afraid I would regret not inviting my father to my wedding, and all the years without a father in my life have hurt me deeply. However, knowing he hasn’t changed, do you think it would be worthwhile to salvage some sort of relationship? — Needing a Father in the Midwest
Dear Midwest: If a relationship is important to you, then yes, but only if you can protect yourself against your father’s manipulations and abuse. Send him a wedding invitation if you wish, but be careful if he starts making demands to walk you down the aisle. Don’t expect too much. Keep phone calls short. Don’t ever visit him alone. If he becomes abusive, hang up or leave immediately.
Dear Annie: I have a dear friend who has one inexplicable behavior. When we visit, “Paula” will often floss her teeth right in front of her family and guests. This frequently occurs in the kitchen as she prepares and serves food. Not only are bits of dental debris projected about, but she doesn’t wash her hands afterward, often proceeding with food preparation. She recently did this in the middle of a formal meal at a restaurant.
Paula would be mortified if anyone called this to her attention. I’m sure there are any number of tooth pickers, dental flossers and nose blowers who see nothing wrong with subjecting others to their hygiene habits. Hopefully some of them will get the message by reading this. — Disgusted in the Northeast
Dear Disgusted: A quick nose blow or a lipstick fix is acceptable, but there is absolutely no excuse for flossing in public, especially around food. Paula may be mortified, but you’d be doing her an enormous favor by pointing out, quietly, that most people would rather not witness such intimacies.
Dear Annie: I’d like to respond to “Totally Lost,” whose wife had gained weight over the years. After 23 years of marriage, my husband is significantly overweight. I encourage him to exercise and make healthier choices about food, but it typically results in him yelling at me that he can do whatever he wants.
Four years ago, I took your advice and began eating healthier and working out regularly, hoping it would encourage “Frank” to do the same. I now look 10 years younger and am in the best shape of my life. Frank, however, has chosen food over his health and our relationship. I love him, but am no longer physically attracted to his fat beer gut. I have a gentleman friend at my office, 10 years younger, attractive and physically fit, who has indicated he would like something more and the temptation is very strong.
I would like to tell anyone who thinks it’s OK to be overweight to put down the bag of chips and hit the gym or you may lose something more valuable than food. — Loves Chips More Than Me
Dear Chips: You were ready to make changes, but your husband isn’t. His size, however, doesn’t give you permission to cheat. Please remember what you love about him before you do something you’ll regret.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.1.08