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home : columns : dear harriette July 23, 2016

3/26/2013 9:32:00 AM
Annie's Mailbox for March 26, 2013

Dear Annie: When I married three years ago, my hubby and I were best friends. Then his mother moved to town, and everything went downhill.

My in-laws disrespected and trashed my rental home. I was hurt that they would do this, because I was extremely nice and financially generous to them. Ever since, she has been working to turn everyone against me, including my husband. If he doesn't do what she wants, she makes him feel guilty. She has put so many nasty ideas into his head that he has turned into a different person.

It's not only her. His entire family is selfish, uneducated and manipulative, and they have a very "macho" mentality. I don't much care for this new version of the man I married. Do I give him time and hope he changes back? Or is this simply who he was all along and I was wrong about him? -- Beth in Baltimore

Dear Beth: We think this is the version of your husband that is most familiar to him. When he is around his family, he reverts to type. It doesn't mean he can't behave differently if he is motivated enough, but he has to recognize the family dynamic and assert himself. It may require spending less time around his relatives, and he may be unwilling to do that. The real question is whether he likes being the guy he is now or wants to be the man you married. Talk to him about it, and if necessary, get counseling.

Dear Annie: When company comes and snacks are put out, I always include a small spoon so that treats like candy and nuts can be removed without a person touching the entire contents. But many guests don't get the point.

One person came in saying he had been suffering from the flu and was still feeling under the weather, so we should keep our distance. He then proceeded to pick through the nut bowl, even though there was a ladle in it. I threw the rest of the nuts in the trash and hoped other guests hadn't been contaminated.

Please remind people that their hands don't belong in a shared bowl unless they've just scrubbed for surgery. Thanks. -- Staying Healthy

Dear Healthy: Many people, sick or well, don't consider that sticking their fingers into a shared bowl of snacks can transmit the germs on their hands to the next person. (So can a frequently handled serving piece.) You can ask your guests to please use the serving pieces because it's cold and flu season, etc., but some folks will pay no attention. Another option is to serve snacks that do not require that your guests reach into the same receptacle.

Dear Annie: I started to cry when I read the letter from "Heartbroken in New York," whose husband drank. I made the choice to end my marriage of 21 years because I could no longer take the Jekyll and Hyde man I was married to. Nothing I did was "right." I was "boring and unspontaneous." The truth was, I was being sensible. He would drink, decide I was dull and then leave to go to a bar. Many of our fights were because I hid the car keys from him. Eventually, he stopped coming home and went directly to the bar.

I finally asked him to leave and not return unless he agreed to counseling. It was then that he admitted he is gay. I was relieved. I thought he would be happier now that he was being honest. But he is the same mean jerk to his partner, and he is still drinking. I now wish I had left him years before. I did an injustice to my kids by exposing them to his verbal abuse for so long. It's better to be alone than to have someone who treats you like this. -- The Grass Is Greener

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, 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

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