Dear Annie: My mother passed away a few months ago, so I began inviting my lonely stepfather for dinner and told him to drop by and visit any time. He often came over four times in a day.
One day, he told me he’s had feelings for me for nearly 25 years. He wanted to know if there was any chance for us and proceeded to ask if he could see me naked. I was in shock! I wanted to cry. I’ve always thought of him as a father. He gave me away when I got married. He was the grandfather to my children. I told him these things, but I don’t think he heard me.
Now I don’t want to go to his house (I miss going because of the memories of my mother), and I don’t want to see him. When he calls my house, I don’t want to answer the phone. My husband and children are beginning to question why I no longer invite him for dinner. My children are grown and don’t live with me, and my husband works all week, so I’m alone most of the time. I’m afraid to open my door. I haven’t told anyone. What do I do? — Shocked and Reshocked
Dear Shocked: How old is your stepfather? Such inappropriate sexual behavior can be a sign of dementia and lowered inhibitions, and the stress of your mother’s death could have tipped him over the edge. Discuss this rationally and calmly with your husband and see if you can arrange for your stepfather to get a complete checkup. In the meantime, it’s OK to visit your stepfather or have him for dinner, as long as your husband or children are with you. If he should make another inappropriate pass, tell him firmly that you are not interested and he must stop asking. If necessary, your husband can tell him the same thing.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for five years. His entire family would like to take a winter vacation and share the cost of a large condo. This is not my idea of a great getaway. However, I said I was willing to go, since it would make my husband happy.
I was recently told what our destination will be and how much our share is. When I mentioned to my husband that I would like to discuss other options, I was told it wasn’t necessary. It was his brother’s idea, therefore, we are to go where his brother wishes. This might be OK if his brother was picking up the tab, but we are each paying our own way.
Do you think it’s unreasonable to want to have a family meeting to discuss other possibilities, rather than allowing one person to decide where and when we will go? Every time something like this comes up, it seems my husband takes his family’s side. — Vacation Nightmare
Dear Nightmare: Of course all family members should have a say in where you go and how much you spend. However, your brother-in-law seems to be the decision-maker in the family and everyone else seems quite willing to abide by his preferences. Unless you have a legitimate financial objection, it wouldn’t hurt to acquiesce for your husband’s sake. You might also present alternatives to your brother-in-law before the next vacation. The real problem is that your husband takes his family’s side over yours, and unless he admits it and learns to stand up to them, you might want to keep the number of a marriage counselor on speed dial.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Pressured Wife,” who said her husband planned all sorts of intimate, romantic getaways in order to have sex, but she was having none of it. Boy, if I were married to a snow queen like her, I’d leave ASAP for someone who was interested in me as a man, not as a paycheck and jar opener. — Lamont
Dear Lamont: And she’d be happy to help you pack.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more, visit www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.10.08