Dear Annie: My in-laws divorced two years ago and my mother-in-law moved into an apartment. At the time, my mother-in-law was very hurt when her daughter, “Aida,” (my husband’s sister) decided to stay with her father in their old house.
My mother-in-law has been dating on and off for most of this time, seeing one man and then jumping to another. She’s dated at least 10 men since the divorce. At Thanksgiving, we met two men she works with and she was dating both of them. Yesterday, she called to say one of them is moving in with her, along with his two children.
I’m concerned Mom is doing this only because she’s lonely. She barely knows this guy, but says she’s “in love.” They both work at a resort that closes during the winter, so they are currently unemployed.
Mom’s relationship with Aida is already strained due to things she said and did before she left. I imagine her new living arrangements will further estrange them. Also, my husband and I have decided we would rather not have her boyfriend and his children involved in the lives of our two young sons until we are sure the relationship will last. We have asked Grandma to see the boys without him.
We only see my mother-in-law once a month because she lives three hours away. Are we wrong to limit contact with the boyfriend? How do we talk to Mom about slowing down before she gets hurt? — Concerned Daughter-in-Law in Massachusetts
Dear Concerned: There’s only so much you can do in this situation. Yes, you can limit contact with the boyfriend. That is your decision as a parent. However, Mom is lonesome and you cannot force her to use common sense, so we hope you will stay close enough to be a source of support if, and when, she needs you. We hope she settles down soon.
Dear Annie: I work in a small hotel and one of my co-workers has recently developed a really horrible case of body odor. He didn’t always smell this bad. It’s a relatively new thing, so I think it’s just poor hygiene.
Since we deal with the public every day, I approached the supervisor about discussing the problem with the co-worker, but he said I should do it. Is it proper for the supervisor to pass the buck like that? There is no HR department. I am new to the company and have no seniority. What can I do? — Smell You Later
Dear Smell You Later: The supervisor should deal with this, but apparently, he isn’t going to. When someone suddenly develops body odor, it could be due to illness, a reaction to a new detergent or even the onset of dementia. You would be doing this person a kindness to take him aside and say, “I’m sure you don’t realize you’ve recently developed a rather strong scent. You might want to see your doctor.”
Dear Annie: “Afraid to Let Go” worries about letting a new man into her life after divorcing her alcoholic husband.
Please suggest she contact Al-Anon Family Groups. Even though the alcoholic is out of her life, the effects of living with someone with an addiction continue. In fact, chances are very good that she will be attracted to someone with the same needs as her former spouse.
Al-Anon helped me learn to see myself as a valuable human being and to understand how I became addicted to the alcoholic. I spent all my energies on living his life instead of my own. It helped me make the changes I needed in order to heal and have healthy relationships.
I would invite her to find a group in her area and try the program. It can change her life. — Healthier in South Dakota
Dear S.D.: Several readers suggested “Afraid” attend Al-Anon meetings. Call 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) or go online to al-anon-alateen.org. Our thanks to all who wrote.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail 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, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.7.08