Posted: Saturday, August 9, 2008 6:55 pm
Dear Annie: My son recently turned 40. We were told that he and his wife were too busy to have any kind of birthday celebration. My husband and I, along with his grandparents and brother’s family, didn’t want the occasion to pass without acknowledgement, so we told his wife we would surprise him. We drove long distances and stayed in a hotel, and we gave him a gift we hoped he would enjoy. You can imagine our surprise when a desk clerk at the hotel asked if we were staying for the “big surprise 40th party.” It turns out that once again my daughter-in-law chose to invite everyone to a celebration except us.
For some reason, we are rarely included in functions where my daughter-in-law’s parents are in attendance. My son and his wife made it clear early on that they wished to keep the families separate. This means we often are excluded. When I told my daughter-in-law how upset I was, she apologized, then justified her actions by saying we had our own party. Annie, we would never have scheduled our party if we’d known there was another one. Neither my son nor his wife has made any effort to mend this. There have been no calls or e-mails in a month.
I don’t want to cut off contact because there are grandchildren whom I love, but I am having a hard time picking up the phone to “make things right.” My son and I used to be close, but he strongly (and rightfully) believes a good marriage requires you to support your spouse 100 percent.
Should I tell the rest of the family they weren’t invited? Should I kiss and make up? Or do I just let them leave me behind? — Hurt Mother
Dear Hurt: Supporting one’s spouse does not mean agreeing with everything she does, especially if it is hurtful. Unless your son likes this lopsided arrangement, he ought to speak up, and his wife has an obligation to take her husband’s needs and preferences into consideration. Please don’t spread the poison around. Simply call or e-mail your son, without addressing this further, and maintain whatever relationship is possible without expecting too much. It looks like the wife runs the show in that house.
Dear Annie: On behalf of women who lunch together, we would like to know if it is improper to ask for separate checks. If ladies go shopping together, they would receive separate bills, so why should a restaurant be any different? Providing separate checks is one of the services that tipping ought to cover. What do you say? — Anne in N.C.
Dear Anne: It is perfectly fine to ask for separate checks, although if there are a great many of you, it is an extra imposition on the wait staff and they should be compensated accordingly. And if you are going to ask for separate checks, do so at the time you give your order so it can be written up that way from the outset.
Dear Annie: I feel compelled to respond to “Unhappy Housemate,” who objects to her boyfriend keeping a picture of his first wife in the foyer of their home.
I married a widower. We also keep pictures of his first wife in prominent places, including as the screensaver on his computer. She was a lovely person and a dear friend to both of us.
Love doesn’t stop when a person dies, but one of the beauties of the human condition is that there is enough love for everyone. I know he still loves her and always will, but I also know that he loves me without reservation. There is no competition for his affection. Knowing your spouse had a prior happy relationship should only reinforce the idea that he is capable of having another one. — Happy Second Wife
Dear Second: You have a healthy outlook, and fortunately those pictures don’t bother you. However, not all women share your inclusive attitude, and for them a compromise is in order.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 8.8.08