Dear Annie: I’ve been married to “Nate” for 16 years. He is wonderful, but blind to the way his family behaves.
These people have never been particularly warm toward me or my children from my first marriage. Nate and I have a child together, and they treat her with the same indifference. They give the other grandchildren expensive toys for Christmas, and ours get junk. The favoritism now extends to the great-grandchildren. I’ve tried to be nice about their treatment, but a person can only take so much. I told Nate I’ve had it with his family, but he says that’s just the way they are.
Nate is the only son in a family of five siblings. His youngest sister has spread rumors about how “lazy” I am because I don’t work outside the home. His parents and all his siblings are the most helpless people I’ve ever seen. If anything breaks, they are on the phone to Nate immediately, expecting him to fix it. If he doesn’t jump right on it, they complain that he took too long.
I don’t know what to do anymore. I am guilted into spending family gatherings with them, and it’s easier to go and be ignored than to upset Nate.
I would never allow my parents to treat Nate this way.
How do I get it through his head that his family has hurt my feelings long enough and I want nothing more to do with them? — Isolated by the In-Laws
Dear Isolated: Nate is permitting his family to take advantage of him and treat you poorly. Unfortunately, he is not willing to take the necessary steps to change that dynamic.
You can manage to put up with his family at major events like weddings and perhaps once a year during the holidays. Otherwise, if Nate wants to take the children and spend time with his family, fine, but we see no reason for you to go along. Tell him his folks will have a better time without you, and then make other plans.
Dear Annie: I have been seeing “Dennis” for some time, and now we are living together. Dennis tends to stay out extremely late two or three nights a week. I have told him that I find this disrespectful and inconsiderate.
There are also women who call him in the middle of the night. He claims he is not cheating, but this behavior has strained our relationship.
He refuses to give up this part of his life. I don’t mind that he hangs out with his friends, but the odd hours bother me. He is not interested in counseling, and I am emotionally ill over him not taking our relationship seriously. What should I do? — Distraught in New Haven, Conn.
Dear Distraught: The combination of late hours and female callers makes us wonder what friends he’s hanging out with, but trusting him is your choice. What we will say, however, is that Dennis doesn’t seem to care how you feel.
This is not a good basis for a lasting relationship, and we see no evidence that it will get better.
Dear Annie: Here’s some male input for “My Two Cents’ Worth,” who objected to a wife keeping her maiden name: Grow up and stop being so insecure.
Women today face requirements not thought of in feudal times.
Recently, my ex-wife contacted me because even though she has had a driver’s license for more than 25 years, a new law required her to prove her name changes.
She had to produce her birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree and the marriage certificate with her current husband.
My current wife decided to keep her maiden name because of her established career.
I have no insecurities about it and even respond to Mr. HerLastName without any anxiety. Frankly, I think boys should take their father’s surname and girls should take their mother’s. — Not Sweating It
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.