Posted: Monday, July 5, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I have three daughters, all in their 40s and married with children. The problem is, the two oldest are not speaking to each other. They had a feud nine years ago when “Stefani” got married, and she and her older sister, “Jessica,” had some disagreement at the wedding. Quite honestly, I am not sure what happened.
Although the rift was repaired, things remained cool. When babies were born, everything at least seemed civil. Then, two years ago, Stefani and Jessica had a contentious phone call and the relationship deteriorated.
None of us lives in the same area, but we communicate via phone calls, e-mails and visits. I work at a hospice and try to make my girls understand that life is short and they shouldn’t hold grudges against loved ones. My father refused to communicate with his siblings, and it took 50 years and a trip to the doctor for the reality of those lost years to hit him.
Jessica did e-mail Stefani to apologize for her behavior that day on the phone, but Stefani will not respond or discuss it. I am trying to mediate. I was going to write each of them the same letter to explain how this erodes family relationships and that they need to teach their children how to resolve conflict. My youngest daughter has a good relationship with both sisters and does not want to take sides.
Should I write the letters? Or do I leave it be and hope they see this in the newspaper, recognize themselves and realize they need to fix things? — Concerned Mom
Dear Mom: Some siblings simply rub each other the wrong way, and their arguments are never-ending. In a healthy relationship, siblings tolerate each other’s personalities. In less forgiving circumstances, there are rifts and estrangements. Please continue to encourage them to stay in touch so their children will know their cousins and so that they will have the opportunity to mend fences. If you think you can do that in a letter, go ahead. But don’t expect too much. We hope there will be time enough to fix this.
Dear Annie: My wife is a 50-year-old mother of three grown children, and she is a self-mutilator. Right now, she’s in the hospital for the third time.
Our family does not understand this disease, and we need help finding a support group so we can figure out why she does this and how we can help her. Please answer soon, as her life, not to mention our marriage, may depend on it. — San Pedro, Calif.
Dear San Pedro: Self-mutilation is the way your wife deals with emotional pain. She does not know how to express difficult emotions and cuts because it is a way to find relief, albeit temporarily. She needs to talk about the triggers that lead to cutting and find alternative methods of dealing with stress and pain. Talk to your wife’s doctor, and ask for a referral to a therapist who deals with self-mutilation. We also recommend a 12-step support group at selfmutilatorsanonymous.org.
Dear Annie: I felt compelled to write regarding “Arizona,” whose husband views online porn while driving. When is this madness going to stop? Drive your car, man!
This is such a common practice in today’s world and is so very serious, with devastating consequences. Something needs to be done. Everyone survived before cell phones. We need attention brought to this issue. Your response should have addressed that. — No Phoning in Cars
Dear No: “Arizona” addressed it in her letter, and we didn’t feel it was necessary to do so again, especially when the bigger picture was that Hubby could be cheating. But of course, no one should be checking out videos while driving. Or texting. Or doing anything else that distracts them from maneuvering a heavy, wheeled, moving object in traffic. We’re happy to repeat the warning.
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 7.5.10