Dear Annie: I’m a divorced woman who was married to a self-centered man for 30 years. He often told me that if I thought there was something better out there to not let the door hit me on the way out. I finally took him up on it, and it turned out to be the best advice he ever gave me.
For the past three years, I’ve been dating “Ted,” also divorced. He is smart and successful, and we are perfect together in every way. Here is the problem: Ted is not ready to marry. He told me his marriage ended because there was no passion. He fears if we live together, the physical attraction we feel for each other will die.
Ted and I spend weekends together and travel often, but then he goes home to his house. I don’t want to live alone for the rest of my life. But if Ted isn’t ready after three years, I doubt he ever will be. His reluctance hurts me deeply and brings back all those feelings of unworthiness from my marriage. Is it time for me to walk? — Thought I’d Found the One
Dear Thought: Ted may be skittish about commitment, but that is his issue, and he is making it yours. Some women are perfectly content with a no-strings relationship with someone they find compatible. But if you are looking for marriage, you will have to set Ted free and look elsewhere. We realize you have put a lot of effort, energy and emotion into this relationship, but if the end result makes you unhappy and anxious, Ted is not the right person for you.
Dear Annie: I must reply to all the mothers-in-law who write to you and can’t understand why they are treated so unfairly by their daughters-in-law. My mother-in-law has been incredibly mean to me from the first time I met her. She deliberately does not include me in many of the family functions. She promises my children outings and never follows through. She and her daughter have been the nightmares of my life.
This has gone on for years now, and I would rather not have any contact with them. My husband feels I should “be the better person” and just ignore their behavior. But, Annie, I can only do this for so long before the better course is to simply walk away. — The Other Side of the Story
Dear Other Side: Has your husband stood up for you with his family? Does he say, “My wife must be invited to these family functions, or I will not attend”? Does he tell his mother that the children no longer believe her promises and it hurts her relationship with them? If he thinks sweeping Mom’s behavior under the rug will make things better, he is mistaken. It is cowardly. Mom will learn to respect you as a member of her family if her son makes it clear to her that this is not optional and there are clear consequences. We cannot guarantee that she will change her tune, but we can absolutely assure you that if your husband does not do these things, nothing will ever improve and you are right to limit contact.
Dear Annie: “Tired of Doing All the Holiday Planning” said she is going to stop hosting family holiday dinners because no one helps her clean up.
In our home and those of our friends, the cook does not clean up. Everyone else does. “Tired” should tell her kids and grandkids to clear, wash, dry and put the dishes away. If Dad is in the picture, he should pitch in, too.
Some of my fondest times involve the camaraderie when my buddies and I clean up after one of our wives’ meals. (We are lousy cooks.) Guys need to get with the program and show their wives they appreciate the effort of putting the meal together. — Helpful Husband
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 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.