Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: “Bill” and I have been married for seven years, but since our first child was born, I’ve felt like a horrible nag. I have to remind him frequently to pick up after himself and finish what he started. He leaves all the cabinet doors open and throws his clothes and other belongings all over the living room.
I know these complaints seem like little things, but it’s been a struggle for me to take care of the new baby and the house, and he compounds my problems. He doesn’t seem to be putting any effort into keeping up our home — or marriage.
I’ve told Bill how important these little things are to me, but he can’t see what the big deal is. I have tried many approaches to helping him get organized. I’ve reminded him with humor, with gentleness, with repetition and finally nagging until it gets done. He offers excuses and apologizes, but makes no effort to change.
I fear what will happen when I go back to work soon. It is putting a strain on our relationship, and arguing is exhausting. What can I do so that I am not living in a constant state of annoyance? — Frustrated Wife
Dear Wife: New mothers often become exhausted and depressed. Try to separate yourself from the mess. If Bill tosses clothes or other things on the floor, kick them into an out-of-the-way corner and say nothing. He knows he’s a slob, and he’s rebelling. When you go back to work, see if you can set aside some money to pay for occasional cleaning assistance. If Bill doesn’t like the expense, tell him sweetly that it is obviously his choice, since he isn’t capable of pitching in.
Dear Annie: My mother died recently. Over the years, she had managed to alienate everyone, including her children. Nonetheless, I tried to be there for her in the end. She said she loved me, yet despite my efforts to reconcile, she never apologized for some of the truly terrible things she said and did that created the rift.
I’m a grown woman feeling like a lost and unloved child. But some hurts go deep and need to be addressed, not ignored. Why didn’t my mother try to fix things? Wasn’t I worth it? Did she really love me? As children grow into adults, we learn to accept our parents’ shortcomings.
I am writing to beg your readers to show their love to their children, through words as well as actions, and to heal relationships before it’s too late. Apologize for any wrongdoing. Don’t expect your child to be someone he or she isn’t. Make every effort to love your child’s partner, and never force your child to choose between you. Please don’t leave your children with the painful legacy of doubting they were truly loved. You may think it doesn’t matter, but in the end, love is all that truly matters.
I am planning to get counseling, but I hope this letter can help someone else avoid my pain. — Grieving in Georgia
Dear Georgia: Thank you. We are certain it will. Please know that this is not about your worthiness to be loved. It is about your mother’s inability to show it.
Dear Annie: A lot of seniors write to you complaining that their children are not attentive enough. My father was fond of saying that two parents could take care of 10 children, but 10 children could not take care of two parents.
Now that I am 87 years old, I have the same complaint. I make a point not to get upset. I understand that my daughters and their children are busy with their own lives and childrearing, and they contact me when they find the time.
I’d love to hear from them more often, but know that “what goes around comes around.” Someday, they will experience the same longing and will have to learn to live with it. — Glendora, Calif.
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 9.1.11