Dear Annie: I am beyond speechless at some of the things my husband’s parents say and do, and yet he lets all of this roll off his back.
My in-laws often treat my husband’s brother and kids to vacations to which we and our kids are not invited. Then they show us the photos and brag about all the fun they had. I can hardly stand to be in the same room while this is going on, but my husband smiles and asks questions about the trip.
My own parents would never dream of doing something for one child that they would not offer to the other. They always have been very fair. To see such lopsided treatment is foreign to me. The truly confounding thing is that my husband is the responsible son. He lives to provide for his family. His brother is irresponsible and a spendthrift and yet seems to be rewarded by his parents.
Outwardly, my husband acts like this doesn’t bother him, but I know deep down the slights have to hurt. Our children are also old enough and smart enough to see the difference in treatment between them and their cousins. My New Year’s resolution is to enjoy the people who truly want to spend time with our family and not permit the others to steal my joy. Am I right? — Missouri Mom
Dear Missouri: Of course you should not allow others to “steal your joy.” But please keep your husband’s feelings foremost when dealing with his family members. We don’t deny that this behavior is hurtful, but he has chosen to deal with it by turning the other cheek and not allowing jealousy or anger to guide his approach. This is a forgiving attitude, and it allows him to have a relationship with his family, which he obviously wants. If you turn this into your crusade, criticizing his family and pushing him to be more upset by it, you are not helping. Instead, shower him with the praise and gratitude his parents deny him so he knows how much he is appreciated.
Dear Annie: We recently attended a play. There was a lady seated behind our group who coughed during the entire performance and never once covered her mouth. As to be expected, our son was ill a few days later. Please tell me whether there is a solution to this problem. — M.P.
Dear M.P.: If only there were a solution to rudeness. No one who is coughing and contagious should attend a public function. Those who insist on attending anyway should cover their mouths so as not to infect those around them. If you notice someone hacking up a lung behind you, it is OK to turn around and ask whether they are OK, whether they would like a lozenge, whether they might wish to leave so they do not disturb the performers and, yes, to please cover their mouths to muffle the sound and limit the spread of germs. You cannot, however, force them to do any of these things. Your remaining choice is to notify an usher of the disturbance and change seats.
Dear Annie: I applaud what “Toledo” said about salespeople following those who bring big purses and oversized bags into stores. I own a small restaurant. I’ve had people ask, “Can I have this beer glass? I collect them.” When they are politely told, “No, it is specialty glassware, specific to serving that beer and of limited availability,” you inevitably find that the glass is missing later.
Over the years, I have lost artwork, glassware, salt and pepper shakers, and even rolls of toilet paper. Every item in a business costs the owner money. Taking something constitutes theft. Would you reach over the counter at your bank and take $20 out of the teller’s drawer? I think not. So leave your big bag or backpack in the car. — Tired Diplomatic Biz Owner
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.