Dear Annie: I live in Europe. I visit my parents twice a year with my kids, and my parents visit us annually. I recently asked that no relatives visit during my son’s spring break so he can concentrate on his SATs and AP exams.
My parents, however, insist they would not be a bother and against my wishes are planning to come during spring break and live at our house for two weeks.
They always expect us to entertain them and take them out of town on the weekends. What can I say to make them change their minds? — 50 Years Old but Still Feeling Five
Dear Old Enough: Unless there is a good reason why your folks picked this time to visit, we strongly urge you to put your backbone in place.
Tell your parents as sweetly as you can manage that if they insist on coming at precisely the time you asked them not to, you are so sorry, but you won’t be able to put them up in your home because your son cannot have any distractions.
You also won’t be taking weekend trips for the same reason. Tell them how awful it is that you can’t provide the type of company they were hoping for and that your son won’t be able to enjoy their visit. Give them the name of a local bed-and-breakfast and suggestions for day trips and places of interest. Do it nicely but firmly, and don’t back down. They will be upset, but they’ll get the message.
Dear Annie: Three years ago, I moved back to my hometown. My older brother, “Jerome,” lives here. He is an outspoken and grumpy old man. His wife and I are friends and talk on the phone often.
Here’s the rub: I haven’t been invited for a holiday or birthday celebration since I moved here.
We exchange gifts, but they have cake or dinner after I leave. Yet my sister-in-law’s family is always invited.
I would often take baked treats over, but I stopped. Should I stop exchanging gifts, too? My sister-in-law knows this is hurtful, but she says only that Jerome doesn’t like a lot of people around. Is he that uncaring? I rarely talk to him now, and I haven’t been to his house in months. He has dropped over here a few times to bring produce or canned pickles. I wish I could just get over it. — Baffled
Dear Baffled: We think the fact that Jerome drops by with produce and canned pickles indicates that he’d like a closer relationship, but doesn’t know how to achieve it. Have you invited him to your home for a birthday or Christmas party? That street runs both ways. You also could tell him directly that you’d love to stay for cake and ice cream at the next birthday party and see how he reacts. It can’t hurt.
Dear Annie: In response to “Another Lonely Wife” (and many other unhappy wives), I share your pain from a husband’s point of view.
After countless romantic dinners, fun weekend getaways and vacations, tickets to her favorite events, a 25th wedding anniversary cruise and doing my fair share of household chores, the “return” on my efforts is nearly zero. It’s not that I expect it for every gesture I make, but being constantly rejected sexually has taken its toll on my happiness. I would never reject any advances from my wife — not that she has made many in 10 years. She says she loves me, but she should add, “But I don’t want to have sex with you ever again.” It’s like I have a roommate, not a soul mate.
It reminds me of the story of the couple who put a dollar in a jar every time they made love. After 10 years, they paid for a trip to Hawaii. In my case, I wouldn’t be able to pay for the gas to get to the airport. — Sad Husband
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.