Dear Annie: I recently saw my 88-year-old disabled mom in the hospital, and she told me my husband is no longer allowed to visit her. I was surprised, since he’d always seemed like such a great son-in-law. It turns out my 55-year-old husband has been exposing himself to her for much of the last five years.
My mother had asked him to stop years ago, but he wouldn’t, so she had my brother talk to him. It worked briefly, but he’s started up again. When I confronted my husband, he admitted his behavior. I told him he needed therapy — after all, repeatedly exposing yourself to someone whose disability prevents her from moving isn’t exactly normal behavior. He set up an appointment the next day.
I told him if he ever did such a thing again, I would call everyone he knew, including his business associates and poker buddies, and “ask for their help” dealing with him. Because he’s well respected, I couldn’t think of anything better than humiliation to keep him in line.
What else can I do? I’m disgusted by his behavior and the harm he’s done to my mother. How do I ever trust him again? — Losing It on Long Island
Dear Losing It: Your husband is an exhibitionist. Some exhibitionism is harmless (flashing one’s behind out the car window), but because your husband is exposing himself to his disabled mother-in-law, it indicates a mental disorder, and if he also has been exposing himself to strangers on the street, he could be arrested for indecent exposure. Exhibitionism is usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. You are right to insist that your husband see a professional, and it may be helpful if you go with him.
Dear Annie: I was asked by a dear friend to spend a week with her at a condo owned by one of her relatives. We could stay for free and split all expenses. After the 15-hour drive, we opened the door to the condo and the place reeked of mildew and years of cigarette smoke. The foldout couch that “sleeps beautifully” was flat as a pancake and smelled like someone sweated out a three-day drunk on it.
The next morning, my friend’s 7-year-old daughter began to show signs of her satanic heritage, ruining every outing by screaming and whining when she didn’t get her way. When I looked at her sternly, she’d stick out her tongue. Her mother ignored this.
I came home exhausted after being with someone I considered an intelligent, thoughtful person. When she e-mailed to ask if I’d had a good time, my husband said I should tell her the truth, so I responded, as thoughtfully as I could, and said it was horrible. She said she was sorry and to chalk it up to lessons learned.
I can’t believe she would even attempt to let anyone see the deplorable conditions of that condo or tolerate her child’s behavior. Do you think I was too harsh when she asked my opinion? — Vacation From Hell
Dear Vacation: Yes. Your friend was not responsible for the condo, since it didn’t belong to her, and you get what you pay for. As for her daughter, that was unfortunate, but many parents don’t see their children the way others do. She did not deliberately show you a bad time. You should have found something nice to say, even if it was only about the weather, and declined any future invitations.
Dear Annie: I read the complaint from “B.H.” about the car honking when you lock it with the remote. It is not necessary to have the dealer disable the horn. One only needs to press the lock button before closing the door. — The Villages, Florida
Dear Florida: If people were willing to lock and unlock their doors with their keys, they wouldn’t need a remote. But thanks for supplying a simple remedy.
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 on 10.22.07