Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:03 pm
Dear Annie: My husband’s parents divorced 25 years ago, and both remarried people who had children from previous marriages. All of the siblings are self-supporting with the exception of one stepbrother, “Rick,” who is now 26. My in-laws pay for Rick’s apartment and all of his expenses because he can’t seem to hold a job and they don’t want him living with them.
My husband thinks he has the right to demand that his mother and her husband stop giving Rick money. I disagree. How they spend their money is up to them. My husband says it isn’t really their money. It’s family money, and they should not be using his inheritance to support a lazy stepbrother. He doesn’t understand why he’s worked so hard all these years when Rick doesn’t have to. He told me he sees no reason to maintain a relationship with his mother if he’s not going to get anything out of it. I couldn’t believe my ears. He said he didn’t mean it the way it sounded.
I told him his parents don’t owe him an inheritance and that I hoped my own parents would spend every last dime before they died. My husband and I earn a good income. I am amazed that I married such a selfish man. I’ve never seen this side of him before, and I don’t like it at all. — Floored
Dear Floored: We don’t believe your husband is selfish so much as he is hurt and resentful. In your husband’s eyes, supporting Rick means Mom loves Rick more. Talk to him about those feelings, and see if you can help him understand that his parents did him an enormous favor by teaching him to be self-reliant, and that Rick will suffer in the long run. You also could remind him that, as the stepmother, his mom probably has less say over the matter than he realizes. We hope he can forgive her and move past this.
Dear Annie: I have spent many years in counseling trying to get over some social anxiety issues, but one still lingers.
People invite us to their homes, and we enjoy their hospitality, but returning the favor makes me beyond nervous. I have nothing to offer that is as nice as what they have presented. I don’t cook very well and would never want to offend someone with less than what they provided for us. As a result, I have stopped accepting invitations. I have taken many different medications to work through this, but nothing seems to help. My mother was a wonderful hostess, so I was taught well. Is it just laziness? — Social Dud
Dear Social: No. Many people are nervous about entertaining, feeling that their homes and food are inadequate. You may even subconsciously be comparing yourself with your mother. Try hosting a smaller or larger event (sometimes serving only appetizers is less stressful) or a backyard barbecue. You also can serve catered food or reciprocate by treating someone at a restaurant. But please keep in mind that most people are less focused on your house and cooking than you are. They simply want to enjoy their friends.
Dear Annie: You frequently advise readers to have the problem person see a doctor for evaluation. My question is: Just how is one supposed to get the problem person to a doctor if they don’t think they have a problem? — A Longtime Reader
Dear Reader: It’s true that you cannot force an adult to get help, which is why we often recommend counseling for the writer, as well. And sometimes, when the problem is psychological, the person is perfectly willing to see an internist, who could often refer or even medicate. Occasionally, threats to leave the marriage or throw out a freeloading child can “encourage” the problem person to seek professional help. The fact that it may not always be successful does not mean one shouldn’t make the effort.
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 8.18.11