Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: I live far away from my family, but try to keep in touch. The problem is my sister, “Diane,” who always misinterprets what I say.
Last month, for example, we were talking about Dr. Oz when I commented that we’d have to wait 20 years to see whether some of those suggestions work. That night, Diane told my brother that I said I wouldn’t care if she died. I tried to call, email and text to smooth things over, but she wouldn’t answer. My mom doesn’t want us to fight. I had no idea we were “fighting” until my brother told me.
A week later, Diane allowed me to apologize, and things were fine, but it has happened again. I suggested that we limit our Thanksgiving guests to the immediate family (24 people). Again, I got a call from my brother saying Diane thinks I hate her in-laws. I tried to contact her to explain, but she is ignoring me.
I am tired of being the bad guy. I can’t help that she interprets my comments in the worst possible way. How can I end the cycle? — Not a Meanie
Dear Not: Diane sounds as if she is hypersensitive and looking for excuses to be upset with you. One of the reasons she doesn’t tell you directly is because she’s still mulling it over, and it’s much more effective if she waits and then tells your brother her own version. Then she punishes you by staying out of contact until you are groveling. She has her technique down cold, and you fall for it every time.
If you think you can discuss this with her rationally, then do so. Otherwise, keep conversations short and neutral. If she becomes upset, send a sweet email saying you’re sorry she’s so unhappy. Then leave it alone. If your brother calls, say the same thing. Let her fight with herself. You stay out of it.
Dear Annie: I have been married to the love of my life for 30 years. About 10 years ago, we moved to be closer to friends and family. It seemed to coincide with early menopause for my wife, which brought with it zero desire for intimacy. My wife asked me whether I thought it was OK to not have sex any longer, and being an acquiescent idiot, I said “fine.”
Now I’m frustrated and wondering what the future holds. I am in my mid-60s, and my wife is in her early 50s. Do I go the rest of my life without? I don’t want to have sex for its own sake. I need the other person to have some passion for me, or it’s not worth having. — Lost and Needy in Missouri
Dear Lost: You need to revisit this issue. No matter what you agreed to at the time, you have become increasingly resentful, and your wife deserves to know. This affects your marriage in a critical way. Unfortunately, your wife may not agree to more intimacy, and even if she does, you may not get the passion you desire. Ask if she would be willing to talk to her doctor about it, and then please seek counseling, preferably together, and work on this.
Dear Annie: “Miffed Guest” said someone stood up at a wedding shower and announced that the bride didn’t need to send thank-you notes. And she didn’t. If that had happened to me, I would have replied, “Obviously, the bride has received far too many gifts. I’ll help out by taking mine back.”
I recently received a photo of a bridal couple holding “thank you” signs with their names printed on the back — no note whatsoever expressing appreciation for the gift. — What’s Become of Us?
Dear What’s: Some misguided people think thank-you notes are antiquated. They are not. Showing appreciation never goes out of style.
Annie’s Snippet for Patriot Day (credit Thomas Bailey Aldrich): With the tears a Land hath shed/Their graves should ever be green.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., 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 www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.11.12