Posted: Friday, February 20, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: Twelve years ago my dad had an affair with “Linda,” a woman who worked in his office. At the time, we lived in a small town where everyone heard about it. I was deeply humiliated by the experience. Dad left Mom and married Linda. They appear to be happy. My mother has remarried, too, but I still feel like Linda ruined my childhood.
I am now married and have an 8-month-old boy. I have forgiven Dad. I want a relationship with him, especially now that he has a grandchild. But I have no interest in a relationship with his wife. I am polite when we visit, but make no attempt to greet her or thank her for cooking or having us over. Linda tries to be nice, but returning her courtesies feels like I am betraying Mom.
When I married my husband, I gave Dad a collage of family pictures. He refused to hang it in his house, saying it was insulting to Linda because there were no pictures of her or her kids in the collage. This irritated me. She and her children are not my family. What really bothered me, however, was when they visited my house and looked at my scrapbooks for my son. Dad said Linda’s picture should have been included under “grandparents.” He says I am passing down old baggage to my son.
I think I’m entitled to scrapbook the way I want. Dad is crazy to believe I will ever feel affection for this woman. How do I have a close relationship with my father when he is always trying to make me accept Linda? — Stepmother Blues
Dear Blues: Linda is Dad’s wife, and he wants you to accept her. You don’t have to be affectionate, nor do you need to put her picture in your scrapbooks, but it serves no purpose for you to insist on holding a grudge. It is not a betrayal of Mom to be civil to Linda, to thank her when she has you for a meal and to treat her decently. It’s been 12 years. Give it a rest.
Dear Annie: While out to dinner with a group of five people, I listened to them without interruption. But when I started talking about a trip to Yosemite, I’d barely gotten through one sentence when someone else began talking over me, describing their trip to Yosemite.
How can I politely tell them to let me have a chance to talk about my vacation? — Respectful Conversationalist
Dear Respectful: Some people are rude this way. It’s generally not intentional and if it happens repeatedly, it’s OK to say, “Excuse me. Would you mind if I finished my story? When I’m done, I’d be happy to hear yours.”
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Barren in Boise,” whose workaholic husband keeps postponing starting a family. I’m her 39 years later.
I wish my husband had been honest and said he didn’t want kids. Instead, I took his non-answers for agreement and we had three children. He wasn’t in the hospital when any of them were born. He dropped me off and said he’d be “right back.”
You were right to warn her that if she had kids with this man, she would raise them alone. I considered myself a single mom with funding. He was always too busy to be a hands-on father. In addition to work, he feels compelled to get as many letters after his name as possible. His employer encourages it, so he keeps racking up the degrees.
Now it is just the two of us and he works more than ever. My advice to “Barren” is to leave while she is still young. He is not going to change. Trust me. I’ve been there. And 39 years later, I’m still there. — Should Have Left Him in Vermont
Dear Vermont: As the old saying goes, your husband has been too busy making a living to make a life.
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 2.20.09