Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 9:37 pm
Dear Annie: My wife has a wonderful, loving relationship with our married daughter, “Lena,” who lives some distance away. They talk every day. This is very important to her, as our sons have not been as loving and considerate as one would hope.
In the last few months, Lena has been unloading all her problems on her mother. Lena and her husband have used a too-light hand in guiding their teenage son, and he now lacks any sense of responsibility or duty to the family, manifested by risky and unwholesome behaviors. My daughter has no close friends where she lives, and her mother is sympathetic, loving and supportive.
Unfortunately, both my wife and Lena suffer from a mild degree of clinical depression, for which they both take light medication. Now it seems that Lena’s daughter is also suffering from this problem, which manifests itself with uncontrollable eating and consequent weight gain.
Lena’s calls are becoming alarming, frequently leaving my wife depressed, frustrated, anxious and unable to sleep. This puts a strain on our relationship as my wife withdraws and becomes extremely sensitive about small issues.
My first reaction is to discuss this with Lena privately, advising her, lovingly, that her daily unloading may be harming her mother by forcing her into a deeper depression. But if my wife finds out I interfered, she would become so angry that it would seriously affect our relationship.
What is the best way to help my wife? — Puzzled in P’town
Dear Puzzled: The best way is to get Lena to unload on a professional who not only will listen, but also help her find ways to deal with these problems. Don’t go behind your wife’s back. Talk to her. Lena’s problems are complex, and although Mom is a wonderful source of support, it might be time for Lena to speak to a family therapist who has the training to offer something more. Get a referral from your doctor and suggest that your wife give the information to Lena. They both may actually be relieved to know that expert assistance is a phone call away.
Dear Annie: My hairstylist owns her shop and employs four other operators. While doing my hair, she talks constantly to the other stylists and their customers, and answers the phone to talk to her friends, parents, children and others. She also talks to salesmen who come in to sell her supplies. She does all this while doing my hair.
Am I paying her for her skill, or should I be getting her complete attention? Sometimes I try to make a suggestion or ask a question about the cut or style, but I can’t interrupt her flow of conversation with everyone else. I could change shops, but I like the way she does my hair. Please give me a suggestion and your opinion. — Ignored in Iowa
Dear Iowa: You are paying for her skill. If her constant conversation doesn’t interfere with her job and you like the way she does your hair, say nothing, no matter how annoying she becomes. If, however, you need her attention to address an issue about your hair, you should interrupt her conversation. You are the customer and your styling needs take precedence. If she ignores you, we think you should tell her why you will be looking for another stylist.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Seeking Solitude in the Skies,” who didn’t mind conversation on airplanes, but wanted to be able to stop talking when he felt like reading, napping or staring out the window.
He should carry a pair of small earphones and stick them in his ears when he wants a break. They don’t even need to be tuned to anything. This works like a Do Not Disturb sign. — Frequent Flyer
Dear Flyer: We’re happy to pass along your useful suggestion. Thanks.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. 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 8.22.08