Skip to content

Annie 10.05.07

Annie 10.05.07
Dear Annie: I cannot get along with my mother-in-law. I have always been respectful to her, even though she has kept in touch with my husband’s ex-girlfriend and enjoys bringing up news about her in front of me.
Recently, Mom was behaving more irrationally than usual. She had begun valuing her animals over my father-in-law and never wanted to go anywhere. She said she felt like she was going crazy. I had a heart-to-heart with her and suggested she have a doctor check her hormone levels and that she also see a counselor. I don’t believe she’s done either.
The last straw was at a recent family party that I hosted. My husband’s son cannot handle his liquor. (There is alcoholism on both sides of the family.) When he drinks, he gets mean and violent. He started calling me names and making snide remarks. I’d had enough. My husband and I discussed what to do, and we agreed that I would send an e-mail to him, copying the entire family, explaining that he may no longer drink in our home and needs to join AA.
A family member saw this and called my mother-in-law to ask what happened, since she wasn’t at the party. My mother-in-law phoned my husband at work in the middle of a very stressful day to yell at him. She thought it was a private matter and shouldn’t have been put out on the pipeline for all the relatives. My husband thinks Mom worries her grandson won’t come around anymore now that he’s been “outed.”
I am furious that she harassed my husband at work. He wants me to leave it alone. OK, fine. However, I want to avoid all family gatherings except for the holidays. Any ideas? — Frustrated and Furious
Dear Frustrated: Surely you knew that posting such a message for all to see would antagonize the family. It pushed your in-laws to ally themselves with your stepson, making it less likely that he will get help for his drinking. If you don’t wish to attend family events other than holidays, that is up to you and your husband. But please, stop sending nuclear missiles on the family pipeline.
Dear Annie: I have been a widower for the past five years. I hooked up with a wonderful lady and proposed nearly three years ago. She accepted, but it is obvious that she really is not interested in marrying, as she never talks about wedding plans and changes the subject when I bring it up.
So, Annie, when I break the engagement officially, does she keep the ring or give it back? We might stay together anyway, and I certainly would never give that ring to another lady. — A Man With a Question
Dear Man: The gracious response is for the woman to return the ring when the engagement is broken, and in many states, if no marriage takes place, the ring legally belongs to the person who purchased it. You might ask for the ring back by telling your lady friend that you want to be able to present it again when she’s ready.
Dear Annie: I can relate to “Exhausted,” who didn’t want to have young children at her home for family events. Hosting any event is tiring, but it is no fun when the hosts have to take care of the guests and discipline unruly children because their parents do not monitor them.
I solved this by having some of these events at a park where children can play on the equipment and run and be loud, and the adults can see what is going on and still visit with one another. I buy the lion’s share of the food and ask guests to bring one dish plus their own beverage of choice. It works out perfectly. I am able to go home to a clean house without being the big bad wolf. — Relaxed in Oregon
Dear Oregon: Great idea. Thanks for sharing.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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
Published in The Messenger on 10.05.07

Leave a Comment