Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 26 years, and we are very happy.
When we first married, we moved next door to my widowed mother-in-law to help her out.
About 12 years later, however, we moved to a more family-friendly community 20 miles away where we could raise our three children.
My wife stays in close contact with her mother. But Mom has always treated us as if we are less important than my wife’s siblings and their children.
For example, every Christmas, the other grandchildren receive gifts carefully selected especially for them, while our kids get cash. This happened even when our children were little and easy to buy for.
This pattern has spread to infect my wife’s sisters. They recently planned a family reunion, knowing full well that my family would not be able to attend an event so far away.
The latest acts of rudeness are a wedding that requires a two-day hotel stay on New Year’s (even though the couple was married six months ago in a civil ceremony) and another niece’s destination wedding in the Dominican Republic.
We don’t have that kind of money, and I have a disability that prevents me from traveling great distances. My question is: Should I feel guilty telling my wife’s sisters that I cannot afford to attend these events?
While I will certainly give the bride a lovely gift, how do I make the in-laws realize and appreciate our circumstances without making things worse? How do I make my wife realize that her mother and siblings treat us like second-class relations?
Because I love and respect my wife, I have bitten my tongue for years. I’d appreciate your opinion. — Fed Up in Ohio
Dear Ohio: Your wife loves her family, even if they don’t treat her as well as you’d like. Don’t sow discontent. Be supportive, letting your wife know how much you love and appreciate her. It will give her the strength to deal with her relatives.
Meanwhile, since you cannot manage a destination wedding, it’s perfectly OK to send your regrets. If your wife wants to attend and it is affordable, let her go without you. This is a reasonable compromise for such family events.
Dear Annie: This isn’t the biggest problem in the world, but I’d like your advice.
My hubby wears a hearing aid. When we are out in public, especially when sitting in a restaurant, he will dig into his ear to pull the aid out and put it away.
I think he should do this in the privacy of the restroom. I haven’t said anything since I’m not sure if I’m right or being too picky. — Curious in California
Dear Curious: How much digging are we talking about? If he can pluck the hearing aid out without much fuss, it isn’t necessary for him to do it in the restroom.
If, however, other people are present at the table or he has to spend more than 10 seconds getting it out of his ear, he should excuse himself.
Dear Annie: You were too one-sided in your response to “N.Y.,” who wanted his wife to run errands with him on Saturday because places are closed on Sunday.
His wife, however, wanted him to go hiking or take drives on Saturday.
Stay-at-home wives may feel sad and powerless if errands take over the husband’s first free day. She’s not trying to control the agenda. She wants to have fun with him.
They could compromise if she runs some of his errands during the week and he comes home early after work and finds a library or mall with evening hours.
Then they could split the Saturday agenda to include both errands and bike rides. — Vermont Outdoor Girl
Dear Vermont: We respectfully disagree. The simpler and more logical compromise is for them to run errands on Saturday and bike on Sunday.
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.