Dear Annie: In the past four years, my wife has become friendly with a male co-worker. The two of them phone each other often and send an enormous number of text messages, often more than 100 a week. These calls and text messages are not work related. At her mother’s house, she disappears into the bathroom for a long stretch, and when I check our cellphone account, I see that she was on the phone with him during that time. I also have overheard parts of their conversations in which she complains that he hasn’t made enough personal time for her.
This guy picks her up on holiday mornings and takes her out for breakfast. In fact, any day they have off of work, he comes to our house while I’m at my job. During this same period, my wife changed her hairstyle, purchased blouses that show more cleavage and started wearing thong panties. She insists that she and this co-worker are just friends, but with all of these things going on, I find it hard to believe there isn’t more to it.
Our children are grown and married. We have discussed getting a divorce on multiple occasions. My wife wants to keep the house, but can’t afford to pay me for my half of it. I have tried to move forward with a separation, but she fights me every step of the way. I don’t know what to do anymore. Any suggestions? — Had Enough
Dear Had: You are moving toward a divorce, but would you rather your wife stop seeing the other guy so you can reconcile? Would she give him up? If you are considering a reconciliation, insist that your wife go with you for counseling and see what can be repaired. Otherwise, talk to an attorney about a legal separation. Your wife’s cooperation, while helpful, is not a necessity, provided money doesn’t become the sole focus.
Dear Annie: I’ve been seeing “Charles” for two years, and I am at my wits’ end with his eating habits. He just turned 21, but eats like a 5-year-old. During a meal, he chews with his mouth open, smacks his lips and speaks with his mouth full. He makes a giant mess and refuses to wipe his hands if they get food on them, saying, “It doesn’t bother me.”
Charles frequently attends family get-togethers at my house, where it is impossible to ignore the lip-smacking and open-mouth chewing. Both of my sisters and my parents have said something confidentially to me regarding Charles’ eating habits. I once or twice kindly asked when we were alone whether he could chew with his mouth closed. He laughed it off, saying his parents tried to teach him table manners when he was younger, but they didn’t stick.
Charles just started a new job where lunch meetings are frequent. I’d hate for him to embarrass himself in front of his bosses. How do I address the situation? Apparently, my kind requests are not getting the job done. — Fed Up in Wisconsin
Dear Fed: Don’t be so kind. Explain to Charles that most civilized people are disgusted by such habits, and that he risks his reputation (and promotions) at work if he cannot demonstrate basic table manners. Ask whether he’d like you to sign him up for an etiquette class. That boy needs serious help. We hope he has the intelligence to admit it.
Dear Annie: This is for the son who called his dad cheap. My father grew up during the Depression and often went to bed hungry. He didn’t buy anything unless he needed it. He saved for a rainy day, and I am so grateful he did. It allowed us to put my mother into an excellent nursing home. He wanted us to never be as poor as he had been. Thank you, Dad. — Your Child
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 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.