Dear Annie: I am in my second marriage. My two adult children were pre-teens when I married “Lenny” 15 years ago.
The problem is, Lenny has a bad temper and little patience. He flies off the handle and gets upset easily. It makes life difficult. He doesn’t frighten me, and I can easily tell him to stop when these episodes begin, but they upset the whole family.
Now that my kids are grown, they have told me that they always resented my “putting them in this position” by marrying Lenny. They are respectful to him, but have no interest in sitting down and having a conversation with him. When the kids are in the house, I often run around trying to keep everyone calm. It makes me nervous. Lenny tried counseling, but not for very long. He said it wasn’t helping.
How do I keep a relationship with my kids? I don’t want to be divorced a second time. While I am sure that Lenny would never harm me, I’m not certain how he would react if I asked him to leave. He does have some good qualities, but it’s hard to remember them when he has these outbursts. Please help me keep my kids in my life. What can I do? — Helpless
Dear Helpless: You can call the Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) at 800-799-SAFE and ask about protected ways to leave your environment. You also can ask for help in discussing ways to get Lenny to return for counseling in anger management. If you decide to stay with Lenny, you can arrange to see your children outside of your home, having a relationship that doesn’t include Lenny. Do not push them to be with him.
Dear Annie: “Nude Bodies Are OK” says nude art is not porn, but you cannot always control what happens when viewing nudity. I have counseled people who were addicted to pornography, and it robs men of their confidence and self-respect. Some people become addicted after a single viewing. I have seen couples divorce and children separated from parents because one of them couldn’t stop using porn.
Suggesting that porn is OK for any length of time and in any form encourages people to try doing what their own good sense warns them is dangerous. Women should not be encouraged to think that a husband who uses porn is “safe” from affairs and that it will somehow strengthen the marriage in the bedroom. This is ludicrous. If he is looking at pornography, he is bonding with the pornography. Brain chemistry is potent, and it is both difficult and unlikely that people will overcome the addiction permanently once it grabs them. — Be a Man
Dear Man: There is a difference between nudity and pornography. No normal person would become addicted to porn after viewing Michelangelo’s David. But anything that debases women, airbrushes body flaws, shows sex acts, etc., is indeed porn and can be surprisingly addictive. Even a little can destroy marriages and lives.
Dear Annie: Last Christmas, my well-to-do in-laws told us they were going to donate to a charity in honor of us instead of gift giving. While this was fine at first, we didn’t get to choose our charity, and after giving it more thought, we told them to forget about it for us.
Giving to a charity is one thing, but giving to a charity while taking the write-off for themselves left us feeling like the only ones who benefited were my in-laws (for their tax deduction) and the charity they held dear. “Grinch in Arizona” must be related to the Frugal McDougals of New York. — Not Taking It with Us
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 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.