Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I recently lost my husband. We married quite young, and after 20 years, he had an affair and we divorced. Three years later, we remarried and stayed together for another 20 years. He was a wonderful husband and an attentive grandfather. We went to church, and he even taught a Sunday school class.
Guess what? It seems that while we were divorced, he married The Other Woman in another country and forgot to tell me. I finally got things resolved so that our second marriage was legally recognized and I am entitled to the insurance money, which is enough to pay off the house and a bit more. But now the other woman is going to court to fight for their 22-year-old child’s rights — a daughter I didn’t know about.
Annie, I feel so betrayed. Our grown children now know their father lied to all of us. I am in counseling, but am so mentally and physically exhausted, I had to take a leave of absence from my job. What do I do? How can I warn others? — Alone
Dear Alone: Your letter will serve as the warning. If it’s any consolation, your husband probably was in denial about his situation. When he came back, he undoubtedly convinced himself the remarriage to you was legal and the other, foreign marriage would simply go away. The daughter, however, is another story. Regardless of the circumstances, if your husband fathered a child, he had a responsibility to support her, and the child is entitled to some of Daddy’s estate. Please don’t be so angry and resentful that you punish the wrong person. You were smart to get counseling. It will help you through this.
Dear Annie: We are part of a group of friends that often gets together for dinner. One couple pride themselves on good manners and are always correcting others on the proper utensil to use, the right pronunciation of words and on and on.
Yet this same couple drink too much, try to run the other person’s kitchen and always jump up from the table to “help the host” when it is both uninvited and unwelcome.
Do we tell them how annoying they have become or simply stop inviting them to our gatherings? — Properly Perplexed
Dear Perplexed: If you are ready to stop inviting them, you may as well see whether an honest conversation will help. The next time they correct one of you, simply say, “We’re sure you don’t mean to be rude by correcting someone in public. Please stop.” If they invade your kitchen, shoo them out. You must be assertive, or you will get nowhere. As for their drinking, that is a different issue and, we might add, could well be amplifying their annoying behavior.
Dear Annie: I’m writing about “Concerned Parent,” who is worried about unrecognized depression in teens.
My father was depressed, and I’ve been treated for depression and anxiety for 15 years. For several months, my talented, smart, loving 17-year-old daughter became another person. She started skipping school, drinking and being verbally abusive to me.
She was always embarrassed that I was being treated for depression. Then she took a psychology class that explained that depression is a neurobiological disorder and does not mean the patient is “crazy.” The next day, she asked me to take her to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with depression and anxiety. She was given a low-dose antidepressant and sent for therapy. Within two weeks, she was my daughter again. She told me, “I can’t believe I feel calm. I thought it was normal to be constantly agitated. I didn’t know I was so unhappy.”
Now I get hugs. She still has mood swings, but her center is much higher. And I learned that teen depression is different from adult depression. Instead of being sad, they might become irritable and angry, skip school, make risky choices and seem to hate everything. A doctor can help find that your child is still there, but locked up by a treatable illness. — Grateful Mom
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 3.30.10