Posted: Thursday, July 29, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My daughter, “Betty,” is having a terrible problem with her sister-in-law, “Linda” (her husband’s sister). Linda is very manipulative, thinks she’s never wrong and can be downright hateful. Recently, Linda’s husband was given a very bad diagnosis, and she used this situation as an opportunity to verbally attack Betty. She brought up things that were resolved years ago and wouldn’t shut up until my daughter agreed with her on everything.
Linda also was angry that Betty and her kids went to our family reunion and mentioned having fun on her Facebook page. She yelled at Betty, who took the abuse since she felt sorry for her. The very next day, Linda called my daughter and acted like nothing happened.
Here’s the kicker: Betty recently had medical troubles of her own that were quite similar to the ones Linda’s husband is having. The compassion she feels is real. She genuinely wants to help in any way, but unless she bows and scrapes to Linda, her help is refused. What kind of wife refuses support for her husband?
We understand that Linda is hurting, afraid and maybe insecure. Her world is out of control, and she is jealous of anyone who is living a “normal” life. But how much does one have to take? She’s always been ornery and now has a good excuse to be even more so. I want to help my daughter. What is the best way to deal with this situation? — Repercussions for Caring
Dear Caring: Linda’s personality is not going to change, no matter how helpful or sympathetic your daughter is. Betty’s husband might be able to get through to his sister, suggesting she speak to her husband’s doctor about coping with her stress levels. But even so, it may not be enough. Betty needs to accept Linda as she is and respond as if the negativity doesn’t exist. That means ignoring her barbs, pretending to be oblivious, changing the subject and smiling sympathetically while saying, “You must be so frazzled. I’m so sorry.” Repeat as needed.
Dear Annie: Over the past several years, surrounding neighbors have installed lovely swimming pools. But instead of the sounds of splashing, we hear their radios blasting. Sometimes they leave the music on when they go back inside and don’t return for hours.
We turn our radio on when we’re in the backyard, but never so loud that it disturbs the neighbors. We have asked them to turn it down, and they have, but why do we have to be the ones to control the volume? — Missing Splashes and Laughter
Dear Missing: Your neighbors will crank up the music until someone objects. Since they already know it bothers you, that is inconsiderate and rude, but there you have it. If you want the volume lowered, you’ll have to ask. Be grateful they comply. Too many neighbors do not.
Dear Annie: Here’s a news flash for “Stiffed in Iowa,” who objected that her parents are only leaving the kids half their estate instead of all of it.
She is entitled to exactly zero of her parents’ money, now or after their demise. If they are so kind, loving and generous as to believe she deserves anything, it will be a gift, not an entitlement.
Some children are fortunate enough to have parents who can afford to leave an inheritance. For others, the inheritance comes from knowing they were loved unconditionally and that their parents left a legacy of good deeds and kindness. You can outlive your wealth, but decency and love stay with us forever. — Never Got a Cent in Omaha
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 7.29.10