Dear Annie: My in-laws always visit on weekends when things are really laid back around the house.
My mother-in-law is great about pitching in and helping with the kids and the house. The trouble is, she never stops.
When I cook, she murmurs criticisms about the food, so I stay out of her way and let her do it. She also organizes my cupboards and drawers, and advises me on how to clean.
Annie, I know how to clean and organize. I just don’t do it on the weekends. Besides, I have my own system, and after my mother-in-law is finished, I can’t find anything.
I know she thinks her daughter-in-law is clueless and lazy, and feels responsible for setting me straight on my housekeeping responsibilities.
But who does she think cleans the rest of the year?
I’ve tried to ignore her, but I’d like her to stop. How can I be domestically diplomatic with my overbearing cleaner-in-law? — Not Lazy and Married to Her Son
Dear Not Lazy: Your mother-in-law sounds like one of those women who needs to prove she is still important, and this is how she does it.
It has nothing to do with your housekeeping skills. It’s OK to ignore her, but better yet, when she shows up, wrap your arms around her and exclaim, “I’m so glad you’re here to take over the house! I have errands to run.” Then go and enjoy yourself.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 15 years.
Whenever we go out, he stares at attractive women. He’s so obvious that many of these women assume he is interested in them and flirt back.
My husband is a good-looking guy, so this happens a lot.
I can no longer bear it. It is almost like he is trying to make a connection with these women. I have tried to get him to go to counselling, but he says it’s my problem and he can’t help “noticing” women.
It makes me worry what he does when I’m not around. I find this behaviour hurtful and humiliating. My resentment is growing by the minute. Please help. — Maybe It’s Time To Leave
Dear Maybe:Your husband gets a charge out of the attention from these women. He may never act on it, but you don’t sound convinced of his fidelity. Some women can tolerate this behavior, but in your case, it is causing severe damage to your marriage. Ask him again to come for counseling, this time explaining that you are ready to walk out. If he won’t go, go without him.
Dear Annie:This is in response to “Had Enough,” who had a colostomy and is no longer interested in intimacy.
I had my ostomy surgery 21 years ago, at the age of 21. I have since learned that the ostomy is only a 4-by-4 inch square with a pouch.
My face, eyes, arms, legs, smile, mind, etc. are still the same. I have found that taking care of my body helps me feel better about it, and the ostomy doesn’t have to change anything except how I use the restroom.
I exercise, scuba dive, travel and love life.
My husband and I have been together for 15 years, and the ostomy affects nothing in our relationship because I have learned that my self-worth is based on many qualities, and the right-hand side of my stomach isn’t one of them.
]Options (options-ostomy.com), an online company, makes wonderful undergarments. There are online support groups, too.
An ostomy is created to save our lives, and now we have to decide how to live them. I choose joy and happiness.
If she can find her way down the same path, that 4-by-4 inch square with a pouch won’t seem so big anymore. — The Happy “Bag” Lady
Dear Happy: Thank you for the words of encouragement. We hope she is listening.
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, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.