Dear Annie: Six years ago, I gave up my job to take care of my mother, while my siblings went off and had fun. After Mom passed, I still had the house to clean and laundry to do. I never asked for a dime. But as my own health has declined, everyone continues to treat me like a servant.
My father and brother both say demeaning things to me. My sister-in-law is a know-it-all and makes it clear that she thinks I’m an idiot. My son-in-law makes me the butt of his jokes. They all behave as if I am nothing.
I am 60 years old and tired of this. All I can think of is getting away from every single one of them. Should I? — J.
Dear J.: Is there a reason you must continue living in your mother’s house? Your relatives treat you like a servant because you permit it. It’s OK to say no to them. If you can find any kind of job that pays a salary, even part time, we highly recommend you start putting money aside and make a life for yourself that you can enjoy. You don’t have to cut off contact with your family. You simply need them to see that you no longer will tolerate such poor treatment.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Omaha, Neb.,” whose wife is grossly overweight. He says he wants to grow old with her. You said, “What woman could resist that?” My wife of 28 years, that’s who. My wife says she doesn’t want to outlive me because she would be too devastated by the loss (unless the stress of watching her eat and drink herself to death gives me a heart attack). She has stated that she doesn’t really care about her weight, lack of exercise or eating habits, so if she dies, it’s all for the better.
She eats voraciously, binge-drinks until she nearly passes out, and doesn’t exercise beyond getting out of bed to sit in her recliner. She is out of breath after climbing five steps. It can take her several minutes to get into the car. She also smokes. She has no strength or stamina, plus she has back, hip, leg and foot problems, and sleep apnea. She’s on multiple medications and lies to her doctor about what she eats and how little she moves around. She won’t see a counselor. And our sex life? Fuhgeddaboudit.
If I say, “Let’s take a walk,” she says, “I’m too tired.” If I say, “You’re killing yourself,” her answer is, “I don’t care.” We own a treadmill and a stationary bike, both nice clothes hangers. I love my wife, but she’s difficult to be with. I hope she reads this. She sure isn’t paying attention to me. — Given Up Hope Out East
Dear Just: We aren’t buying your wife’s reasoning. We think she has given up on living a healthy life because the amount of work required is overwhelming and depressing. But she also is putting tremendous strain on you. You cannot fix this. She must want to do it for herself. So make sure she has a legal will and that her funeral wishes are written down for you. Then let her do what she wants. You need to live the best life you can while she lets hers slowly fade away.
Dear Annie: “Sleepless” seems very concerned about absolving his co-worker of the wrongdoing of having accepted his money for sex several years ago. But his actions were equally as immoral and embarrassing. For some reason, this long-ago encounter was memorable for him, but I doubt it meant much to her. She probably doesn’t remember him. She certainly isn’t carrying around a letter to him. This woman has moved on. I don’t believe he intends to make her feel better. I think he wants to humiliate her to soothe his own guilt. — Ohio
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.