Posted: Monday, June 7, 2010 10:49 am
Dear Annie: I have been married for 35 years to a man who, at any moment, will bring up things from our past that are very hurtful to me. And he knows exactly what he is doing.
Two weeks ago, he threw something in my face that goes back to before we were married. He had loaned me a small amount of money — less than $100. At the time, I was a single mom working a full-time job without the benefit of child support from my ex-husband. I guess I never paid him back. I had totally forgotten about it and couldn’t believe he remembered — and apparently is still upset about it.
We are now the parents of three grown children. On the outside, we appear to be the perfect couple, but his continual badgering has left me feeling like a knife is being stuck in my heart. He knows how I feel about this. The only time he stops is if I start to cry. Why does he do this? — Hurt in the Midwest
Dear Hurt: Has your husband always been like this, or is it a fairly recent development? The fact that he hangs on to these grudges and uses them to make you cry is a form of bullying and an effort to exert control. If this reflects a change in his personality within the past few years, he may have a neurological problem that requires medical attention. Unfortunately, if it goes back 35 years, it will be difficult to modify his behavior, especially if he isn’t willing. It is not, however, impossible. Get some counseling — on your own if he won’t go with you — and learn how to respond in a more productive way.
Dear Annie: Why do people feel the need to offer advice that is unsolicited and unwanted? Isn’t that completely out of line?
A friend of mine sends me e-mails telling me that nearly everything I do is wrong. I have not asked this person for their opinion. I am not hurting or offending anyone, and I do not welcome the criticism or want her input. Ultimately, it is insulting. Why does she know better than I do?
If someone asks for advice or an opinion, it is OK to give it. Otherwise, please tell people to tread lightly. You never know when a foot will be inserted in the mouth or feelings will be hurt. — Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Dear Indiana: Being in the advice business, we know how useless it is to direct our suggestions to someone who hasn’t asked for our help. Unsolicited advice is often resented. There is no reason you cannot delete this person’s e-mails unread or, at the very least, not respond to the parts that are insulting. (On the other hand, when it’s your mother-in-law, sometimes it’s best to simply turn a deaf ear.)
Dear Annie: You were way off base in your response to “Devastated and Frustrated,” whose son and daughter-in-law didn’t invite her to her grandchild’s birthday party because the ex-husband and his fifth wife were there. She’s also not allowed to stop by and visit without calling. Now she’s been cut off entirely because she told her daughter-in-law’s aunt on Facebook to MYOB.
That woman has a right to see her blood-related offspring. That daughter-in-law needs to learn her place, and that is to respect her son’s grandmother. That fifth wife has no business being at a birthday party. Someone needs to come down on that son and daughter-in-law with a lead balloon. You should have told her how to access her grandparents’ rights. — Angry in Connecticut
Dear Angry: Grandparents’ rights are not recognized in every state, and there are often restrictions. The fact that “Devastated” ought to be able to see her grandchildren doesn’t mean she will. We’ll say it again: The best way to resolve the problem is for Mom to find a way to get along with her daughter-in-law.
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 6.1.10