Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2008 9:11 pm
Dear Annie: My eldest son, “Ben,” is 44 years old and still a huge concern for my husband and me.
Ben recently broke up with his fourth wife after only one year of marriage. His relationship with his three former wives lasted about the same duration. The truth is my son has deep-rooted problems stemming from early childhood. These include exhibitionism, sexual sadism and voyeurism. My husband and I took him to a psychoanalyst when he was only 11 years old in an effort to unravel the causes of his behavior. After two years of intensive therapy, Ben refused to attend any more sessions.
My son comes from a very loving and secure home. He has never wanted for anything in his life. His other siblings show no signs of any unnatural behavior whatsoever. His last wife confided in me that she was sick and tired of his bizarre proclivities. I don’t think I can tolerate any more. Please help. -- Sad Mother
Dear Sad: Ben needs professional help, but unless he is willing to admit it, there is nothing you can do for him. If four marriages in as many years hasn’t convinced him something is wrong, we doubt he will listen to anyone’s advice, but it certainly can’t hurt for you to suggest he would be more capable of finding a lasting relationship if he worked on it with the help of a good therapist. You, however, need to separate yourself from Ben’s problems. We know how hard this will be, but he is a grown man and responsible for his own messes. Worrying will only make you miserable and stressed and will accomplish nothing. You cannot fix this. Disengage.
Dear Annie: I am devastated. After 19 years, I thought I had a good marriage but recently discovered that my husband has been e-mailing Internet dating services and erotic chat rooms.
My husband is serving in Iraq. I don’t know what to do or whom to turn to. He won’t be coming home until the end of the year. Should I confront him now or wait? Oh, by the way, he signed over power of attorney to me before he left, so I could wipe him out financially. I’d hate to do that, but I am a woman scorned. What’s my next move? — Army Wife
Dear Army Wife: Please don’t do anything vindictive. You’ll only hate yourself in the morning. It would be best if you could wait until your husband comes home to have this conversation. It is counterproductive to conduct a bitter argument via e-mail when you are so far away from each other and he is in a dangerous place. In the meantime, we hope you will take advantage of the counseling services offered by the military.
Dear Annie: I’m writing in response to “Scared Mother,” who found jewelry in her daughter’s bedroom and suspects shoplifting. I’m an 18-year-old girl, and I, too, have amassed a collection of items my mother did not buy for me. They are from a romantic relationship with another girl.
Though I grew up in a loving, supportive home, I did not feel comfortable talking about this relationship with my parents. When Mom spotted new jewelry, I don’t think she suspected thievery, but it would have been an understandable reaction. Luckily, Mom has been very open and receptive to the truth.
I’m not saying this is the case with “Scared,” but she should know there are reasons other than criminal activity for both the new jewelry and her daughter’s reticence to mention it. Whatever the reason, I hope they resolve it. -- Teenage Girl with Secrets
Dear Teenage Girl: Many girls wrote to say they had received such gifts from boyfriends and girlfriends, as well as older men looking to become sexually involved. We hope “Scared” will talk to her daughter and find out what is going on.
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 10.23.08