Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008 7:18 am
Dear Annie: Recently, my mother-in-law called my husband’s cell phone while he was at work. The phone went to his voicemail, which has my voice asking the caller to leave a message. The next day, she called my husband crying and accusing me of hanging up on her and not answering the phone.
How dare she accuse me of hanging up on her when she clearly knows how voicemail works. I also was angry that my husband didn’t stand up for me. Instead he patiently explained something she already understood.
I have not slept well since this happened. I can’t stop thinking about the constant disrespect this woman inflicts on our family. No one ever stands up to her, so I decided it was important for her to know she hurt my feelings with her accusation. Instead of apologizing, however, she asked why my husband had my phone. I explained that it’s his phone, but my voice is on the recorded message. She replied, “Well, your voice shouldn’t be on his phone.” I said it was none of her business.
How do I deal with this selfish, controlling woman who constantly demeans everyone around her? I think the only option is to move out of Dodge. — Ready To Leave Town
Dear Ready: Moving certainly is an option, but it won’t change the way the two of you get along. It’s possible Mom really was confused hearing your voice on Sonny’s phone, but she chose to make a fuss about it because she gets attention that way. Sonny should have emphasized that you did nothing wrong. We’re big advocates of the “kill ’em with kindness” school. Your mother-in-law can learn to respect and even love you, but you’re going to have to work at it and be very forgiving, and your husband absolutely must back you up every time. Please give it a shot before calling the movers.
Dear Annie: I recently visited my 72-year-old “Aunt Gladys.” She’s sharp as a tack and in fairly decent health. The problem is, Gladys says showers and laundry take too much effort, so she neither showers regularly nor changes her clothes. The result is she has a very unpleasant smell about her.
How can I tell my aunt she needs to change her undergarments daily, bathe at least three times a week and wash her clothes after she wears them several times, even if they don’t look dirty? — Loving Relative of a Sweet Old Lady
Dear Relative: Our senses, including smell, can dull with age. We suspect Aunt Gladys doesn’t realize she has lost the ability to smell her clothes and body as acutely as she once did. It’s also possible she is having some physical problems that make it painful to shower or do laundry, so please see if that could be what’s going on. If not, and she is otherwise “sharp as a tack,” someone (you) should tell her, privately, that she will need to be extra meticulous with her bathing and laundry.
Dear Annie: This is for “B.A.,” who claims that our media images of anorexic models are but a reflection of our biological predilections, and that “overweight women are not healthy.”
Hey, Toots, you should Google “goddess of fertility” and see what kind of images pop up. They look more like an ad for Michelin tires than what you’d consider attractive based on today’s media images. And, by the way, there IS a biological reason for that, seeing that a healthy fat ratio for a woman is 18 percent. Below that, she may stop menstruating. Fat must be essential to something, get it? — Goddess and Proud of It
Dear Goddess: Many experts believe women should have a 22 percent body fat ratio in order to maintain normal menstrual cycles. However, too high a percentage will also interfere with a woman’s childbearing ability. The goal is to remain healthy, at whatever weight that is for each woman.
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 8.28.08