Dear Annie: I’ve known “Ted” all my life. About 10 years ago, I loaned him $1,000. He never repaid it, and I could really use that money now. Ted lives in a different city, and when I phone him, he refuses to discuss it.
In the past, I had given Ted money outright, but this was absolutely a loan. I made sure he knew that, but I didn’t ask for a promissory note or any interest. If I hire a lawyer to sue him for the loan, I’d lose half the money paying the lawyer.
Ted’s mother once warned me not to loan money to friends. What can I do? — Should Have Listened
Dear Should: You could try to retrieve the money by suing Ted in small-claims court. You generally don’t need an attorney to do this, but you are likely to lose the friendship permanently. You might want to warn Ted in advance that this is your intent if he isn’t willing to discuss the loan and reach an agreement.
Dear Annie: You get lots of letters from husbands or wives who are unhappy and asking, “What went wrong?” Maybe the trouble is that while they were planning a wedding they forgot to plan a marriage.
I performed my first marriage ceremony 60 years ago and have done several hundred since. Some were in large churches with fancy flowers, string quartets and an exquisite reception. Some were in my living room with only the bride and groom in their Sunday clothes.
There is quite a difference between a wedding and a marriage. A wedding is the civil and/or religious ceremony that ends in the signing of a certificate making the whole thing legal. A marriage is a covenant between two people who promise to love, honor and cherish each other.
My advice to any couple planning the kind of wedding they will have is to first ask what kind of marriage they will have. — Retired Methodist Minister in Texas
Dear Minister: It’s true that some couples are so focused on the trappings of a wedding that they don’t give enough thought to what comes after. And what comes after is meant to last a very long time.
Dear Annie: Your advice to “Upset Mom in USA” made me angry. She said her son was accused of stealing a ring from his cousin when he briefly stayed at his aunt’s house.
This son is a financially secure 32-year-old businessman, not a teenage boy bicycling around Europe. The missing ring is between him and his cousin. In addition to the possibility that the niece simply misplaced the ring, it could also be a setup.
The aunt called her nephew, not his mother. Mom has no place in this contretemps, yet you advised her to speak to her son when he returns, and even suggested she offer to split the cost of the ring. Why should Mom offer anything if her son is innocent? If she in any way admits that her son is at fault, it will poison the relationship between her and her son. And if he did steal the ring, he should pay the full cost. Either way, it is not Mom’s place to fix it, and you should have said so. — Annoyed at You
Dear Annoyed: Our concern, actually, was not the son or the ring. It was the relationship between the sisters. You are absolutely right that the son is responsible for working this out, and we should have said so. But we also know how difficult it is for a parent to stand by and watch a family situation deteriorate over such accusations. Even though the issue is between the cousins, we suspect Mom fears losing the affection of her sister, and that is where our advice was directed. (Although the idea that this might be a setup did not occur to us. Heavens.)
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.