Posted: Monday, July 6, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I am sick and tired of my mother expecting me to fix everything. When my siblings get in financial trouble, she expects me to bail them out because I have a better job thanks to my college degree — a degree I paid for with student loans and grants. My family didn’t help one bit. My wife and I struggled to pay off the loans while my siblings were getting into debt. My mother also expects me to spend all my vacations and weekends doing maintenance and remodeling on her home, even though I live out of town. She thinks I should fork over the dough whenever her “needs” cost more than she can afford, which is most of the time.
This is putting a strain on my marriage. My wife resents saving money for our own home only to have me give it to my siblings or mother. She also doesn’t like that I am so tired from doing things for Mom that I don’t have time for our own children. Would it be wrong to tell my siblings “no” when they ask for money? Would it be wrong to tell my mother to hire someone to do the work on the house, or that she and her roommate should pay for the projects themselves? — Tired of Being Mr. Fixit
Dear Tired: Is it wrong? No. It’s long overdue. Adult siblings are responsible for their own finances. Unless something catastrophic happens, you should let them fend for themselves. As for Mom, it’s nice to help her out with home maintenance when you can, but you don’t have to do it every time, and it should not be at the expense of your family. It’s perfectly OK to say, “Sorry, not this time.” Mom will be stunned, but she’ll get used to it eventually.
Dear Annie: My husband has always felt he should “have the floor,” especially when we have company. Now that he is retired, it’s even worse.
After working my tail off to prepare a holiday meal, I can’t get in so much as a word, even to ask what someone would like to drink. He just goes on and on. When I finally have to interrupt him (politely), he gets furious and calls me names for the rest of the day. When we visit my sister, his mouth constantly runs until everyone is ready to scream. Our married children get so fed up when they visit that they threaten not to come back. Is there any civil way to handle this? — Wife of a Motor Mouth
Dear Wife: Your husband craves attention, but no amount can sufficiently feed his ego. Now that he’s retired, he is more insecure than ever about his importance in the world, so his demands have increased. Try to interest him in a new hobby, preferably something that will allow him to garner admiration from others (i.e., photography or crafts that he can display). Also let him know his behavior is alienating the children and other relatives and friends. Then ignore what you can, speak when you need to, and if he calls you names, turn a deaf ear and walk away.
Dear Annie: I want to tell “Sleepless in Salem, Ore.,” whose husband has sleep apnea, how much he is losing by not seeking medical help.
I have had sleep apnea for a long time. After getting so tired I would fall asleep at my desk and not be able to drive for more than an hour, I finally decided to do something about it. That decision changed not only my life, but that of my entire family. My wife and I both sleep better, and I am more productive and have more time and energy for my family. This man is a fool if he does not have this checked out. — Omaha, Neb.
Dear Omaha: Congratulations for finally seeking help. We hope others in the same situation will take your sage advice.
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 7.6.09