Dear Annie: After 10 years of trying to make my marriage work, I finally could not take the verbal and mental abuse any longer. When a friend overheard one of my husband’s tirades, she offered me a place to stay, a job, a car and an airline ticket. I took two suitcases and left. A month later, he called and said his leukemia, diagnosed a year ago, was now terminal and death was imminent. I went home. He had lied. I packed and left again with no intention of returning — ever.
Now, six months later, his illness requires chemotherapy and he is on disability. I’m sorry he is ill, but I cannot go back. No one understands my position. I am accused of being a terrible person for “leaving him when he’s sick,” but I am safe and trying to tend to my own recovery.
The problem? My friend, the one who got me out of that situation, has now decided that if I won’t talk to my ex, she will, because after all, he’s dying and needs support. Annie, does cancer automatically wipe out the fact that this man almost destroyed me? She can’t understand why I am furious. Am I wrong to demand her loyalty? If she wants to spend hours on the phone with him, fine, leave me out of it, but she says she doesn’t want to go behind my back. I don’t get it. — We’ll All Die Sometime
Dear Friend: Your relationship with your ex is entirely different from your friend’s and she does not carry around all your negative baggage. The fact that he’s dying has made her feel sorry for him, and her sympathetic nature is one of the reasons she helped when you needed her. If your friend wants to call your ex, that’s her business. She should not, however, carry on these conversations when you are within hearing distance. That is disrespectful to you. Tell her we said so.
Dear Annie: Every year for Christmas, we use a picture of our family taken on vacation and put it on our Christmas cards. This year, our 22-year-old daughter’s live-in boyfriend, “Ed,” is in the picture. Normally, we print on the photo, “The Smith Family — John, Jane, Jenny and Justin.” How do I include Ed in the wording this year? Thanks. — Bewildered Dad
Dear Dad: This is what the inside of cards is for — to write personal messages and family news. The people to whom you regularly send Christmas cards will spot Ed as a new face. If you feel it is necessary to caption the photograph, try “The Smith Family — John, Jane, Jenny, Ed Jones and Justin.” Or “The Smith Family — John, Jane, Jenny, Justin and Jenny’s friend Ed Jones.” Wordy, but descriptive.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Can’t Breathe In My Own Home,” who married a smoker.
I have been a smoker most of my life. He has an addiction and such problems do not magically disappear. She has stuck with him for 31 years, but now she is whining because he could not quit when she expected him to. She should not have married him to begin with.
Have they ever thought about making a place outside the home where he could smoke comfortably? I am not saying it is good for him to smoke. I am just being realistic. If he decides to quit, he should talk to his doctor about new medications, but the decision must be his, not hers. Preaching to him will not help. I will step off my soapbox now. — J.
Dear J.: We agree that if you can’t stand the smoke, you shouldn’t marry the smoker, but people often make promises they can’t keep and you can’t turn back the clock. We hope he is willing to check out some stop-smoking programs — for his health as well as hers.
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 12.19.07