Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: Two weeks ago, we were informed that my wife’s brother, “Bob,” and his wife, “Marcia,” were splitting after eight years. A few days after this surprise, it came to light that they had never really been married. Apparently, they never intended to make the arrangement legal. They had a ceremony in a church and swore their vows before God in what we believed was a traditional wedding. I have no idea if the minister was aware of this charade, but my wife has now admitted that my mother-in-law knew.
I find this astonishing, as my in-laws are devout and active church members, and I cannot imagine they would condone this farce — in their own church, no less — or the embarrassment this has caused them in their small community.
The more I reflect on this, the less I want anything to do with my wife’s family. My wife says to let it go, but by attending future family gatherings, I’d be giving tacit approval to their bad behavior. I don’t want to punish my wife — it’s not her fault — but for the last eight years we’ve been spending family time with people who were only living together as a matter of convenience. Should I tell my wife to go to these gatherings alone? — Miffed in Maryland
Dear Miffed: You feel duped, which makes you understandably angry. And we are surprised the church would permit this couple to take vows without filing the necessary legal papers. If Bob and Marcia had simply chosen to live together, would you feel the same? They were a committed couple for eight years and didn’t intend to hurt anyone. In fact, the “marriage” may have been an effort by your mother-in-law to make others believe they were not living in sin.
Yes, your wife can go on her own to future family gatherings, but we hope you will find a way to forgive Bob. You should still register your disapproval, but he is your wife’s family and avoiding him will create an estrangement only for you.
Dear Annie: Fourteen years ago, a good friend gave me several articles of clothing that no longer fit her. These were expensive clothes and I appreciated everything she gave me and have worn them consistently ever since.
Recently, this friend lost a great deal of weight and has asked me to return a leather jacket. She says the other things were gifts, but she only intended to loan the jacket in case she could ever wear it again. Should I return it? I have spent a great deal of money over the years having the jacket cleaned and am quite resentful. What do you suggest? — N.C.
Dear N.C.: That must be a special jacket for both of you to want it so much. You might consider that for 14 years you’ve worn lovely clothes that you received for free, and now you begrudge your friend the jacket she’s finally able to wear again. You aren’t obligated to give it back, but you will lose the friendship if you refuse. Is that what cleaning costs are worth? We think she’s been very kind to you and this is your opportunity to return the favor. Please try.
Dear Annie: Your suggestion to “M.E.” to create vegetarian dishes for that lazy parasite of a daughter-in-law misses the point. That poor mother shouldn’t have to cater to a younger and perfectly capable woman. Adult children who take advantage of their parents should be firmly lectured about manners, the purpose of motels and restaurants, invited for a few select meals and activities and then shown the door.
In our family, adult children stay in a nearby motel. That way, we each have privacy. Children like hers aren’t adults at all, merely spoiled kids. — Sarasota, Fla.
Dear Sarasota: If adult children can afford to stay in a nearby motel for a two-month visit, all the better. Unfortunately, not all families can manage it.
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 1.21.09