Dear Annie: I began seeing my husband when his daughter, “Ellis,” was 15 years old. Ellis has been a constant challenge, in trouble on a regular basis, befriending the wrong people, abusing alcohol and drugs and just plain refusing to get a job. My husband pays all her bills, including her house payment. Ellis is now in her 30s and still does not have a job.
My husband tells me he is going to quit giving her money, but he continues to enable her. This is causing problems in our marriage. I want Ellis to find work and move out of a house she cannot afford. We are getting on in age and should be preparing for our retirement, but because of Ellis’ bills, we are living paycheck to paycheck. She has threatened suicide many times, which is what really prevents my husband from getting tough with her.
Please don’t say she needs counseling. We already know that. She has been to many counselors but ultimately quits going, and no one can make her go back. What complicates the problem is my daughter, who is buying her own place. She gets very angry with me because I don’t have the money to help her as much as she needs since it’s all going to Ellis.
I’ve told my husband on several occasions that I will not continue living this way much longer, yet I keep doing it. It’s reached a point where I feel he and I need to go our separate ways. What do you suggest? — Had Enough
Dear Had Enough: Your husband needs to understand that supporting Ellis is not in her best interests. It undercuts her ambition, prolongs her immaturity, makes her feel incompetent and reinforces her dependency. She will never get a job, not only because Dad supports her, but because his coddling has made her fear she cannot succeed. A truly loving parent helps his child be a responsible adult, even if he isn’t popular doing it. Before walking out, ask your husband to go with you for counseling so both of you can work on this.
Dear Annie: I’m a full-time college student with a full-time job. I’ve been dating “Matt” for seven months. He recently had some financial setbacks, which means we often go Dutch. That’s fine with me.
The problem is, lately Matt will suggest we go out to eat, only to get to the register holding a wad of money, saying, “This is all I have.” Then I end up footing the entire bill. While I understand his reasons, I don’t like how he goes about it. I don’t want to break up with Matt, so how can I get him to stop taking my money for granted without hurting his feelings? — Feeling Used
Dear Used: Matt shouldn’t put you in the position of paying for every date without warning you in advance. He’s taking advantage of you. When he suggests going out for dinner or a movie, offer to do something less pricey. Rent a movie and watch it at your place. Go to a museum. Have an indoor picnic. Tell him you know going out can be expensive and you want him to save his money.
Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from “Iowa Editor,” who chastised you for recommending craigslist.org as a resource without also mentioning newspaper ads. You said, “If we could figure out how to say ‘mea culpa’ in plural form, we’d plaster it all over the column.”
The plural of “mea culpa” (my fault) is “nostra culpa” (our fault). — Muriel Garcia, Former Teacher of Latin
Dear Muriel Garcia: Thanks for the Latin lesson. We knew we could count on our readers to tell us how to say we were wrong in any language. We hope we don’t have to use it too often.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.4.08