Dear Annie: “Rupert” and I have been married nearly two years. I guess you could say the marriage was unplanned because we married when I became unexpectedly pregnant. I thought Rupert would be happy that I was having his child, since he’d told me he always wanted children. When he didn’t jump for joy at the news, I assumed he was just in shock and it would pass. But it didn’t. Rupert has been closed off ever since. He barely speaks to me. Worse, he has started having a lot more nights out with the guys and has managed to become friends with several younger women.
I’ve explained to Rupert how awful this makes me feel, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I’ve put pleading letters in his briefcase, praying he’ll read them, but nothing happens, so I cry myself to sleep. Right now, the only thing keeping me in this marriage is our daughter.
My parents don’t look kindly on divorce, and honestly, Annie, I really don’t want to leave him, but I don’t know what else to do. Can this marriage be saved? — Hopelessly Devoted in Illinois
Dear Hopeless: Only if both of you are willing to make the effort. Rupert may have wanted children, but apparently, not so soon. He feels trapped into marriage and resents it. However, he needs to grow up and accept responsibility for the life he’s made. Stop putting notes in his briefcase and then crying yourself to sleep. Tell him point-blank that the marriage is in serious trouble and he needs to come with you for counseling. If he refuses, go without him so you can make the best decisions for your daughter and yourself.
Dear Annie: Over the weekend, my family had a “friendly” discussion about the proper etiquette for accessing items that are generally personal.
What is OK when it comes to checking a person’s Caller ID log, looking inside someone’s purse, going through pictures on a digital camera or cell phone, etc.? Arguments ranged from snoopy, boorish, disrespectful behavior to no big deal. What is acceptable? — Boston Investigator
Dear Boston: Looking inside someone’s purse, wallet or tote bag is strictly off-limits. Checking their Caller ID log is rude, but people will do it because it’s visible to anyone who walks by (very slowly, of course). And while many people don’t mind, no one should assume it’s OK to view pictures on a digital camera or cell phone unless invited to do so. But again, if these items are left out in the open and unattended, you can be sure some busybody will take the opportunity to be nosy. Cell phones and PDAs, in particular, contain personal information that should not be accessed by others. If you want such items to remain private, keep them where they are not easily perused.
Dear Annie: I’d like to pass along something that may be helpful to your readers who become stepparents.
My brother’s wife left him with three teenage boys. When he eventually remarried, they were concerned about what to call their new stepmother. She is a wonderful lady who had a great idea. She reassured the boys that they already had a mother and that would not change. She suggested they consider her a friend with whom they could speak candidly and not have to fear raising topics that might be difficult to discuss with a parent. She said, “Friends are called by their first name.”
This worked extremely well over time. It had the added benefit of helping everyone feel comfortable with their new situations. — Dave in Louisville
Dear Dave: Every relationship with children needs to find its own best expression. Thanks for providing one of them.
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, 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 3.13.08