Man’s wife puts strain on his relationship with his parents

Published 11:42 pm Saturday, October 7, 2006

Dear Annie: My oldest son from a previous marriage joined the military, served most of his tour of duty in Illinois, and stayed there when he married “Susan,” a local girl. Susan seemed sweet, and my wife and I visited at least twice a year.

Susan started showing her true colors when she got pregnant. She immediately called her parents to tell them the good news, but get this: She told my son not to tell us until she reached her eighth month. My son knew how badly I wanted grandchildren, so he told me anyway but made me promise not to let on.

After the baby was born, Susan began to act colder toward us. We thought it was stress and ignored it. It all came tumbling down when we flew there for my grandson’s first birthday. Susan never got out of bed to greet us, and the entire time we were there, she and her parents were rude and ignored us as much as possible. When it came time to leave, my son said Susan was sick and he was busy, and they couldn’t take us to the airport. It cost us $60 for cab fare.

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Seven months later, I asked my son to visit us for Christmas so we could take a family picture with his wife and child. He informed me they couldn’t make it because Christmas was permanently reserved for Susan’s family and friends.

After several failed attempts to have them reconsider, we had a big argument over the phone and haven’t spoken since. That act was the ultimate insult. Am I wrong? — Angry Father

Dear Angry Father: It depends on what you want. If being right means you won’t speak to your son again, it can’t be very satisfying. You should not have demanded a Christmas visit. Family photographs can be taken any time, and making an issue of the holiday forced a confrontation. Susan is probably thrilled that you created an estrangement and did her dirty work for her. So she isn’t crazy about you. Your son should have enough backbone to maintain contact on his own. Please try not to make it so hard for him.

Dear Annie: I work in a small office, and every sound travels. We have an employee, “Betty,” who is young, and this is her first job. Betty chews ice most of the day, making crunching sounds, and she also taps her fingernails, clicks her pen and yells out when frustrated or excited. It is nerve-racking and rude.

I have made several pointed comments, and Betty laughs them off. How do I handle this without being the office shrew? — Polluted by Noise

Dear Polluted: It sounds as if Betty could be hyperactive or she may have a neurological problem, such as Tourette’s. She also may be iron-deficient, a common reason for chewing ice. Suggest to Betty that she get a complete checkup. Also talk to the office supervisor about the racket, and if necessary, bring a small fan or radio that will create low-volume white noise.

Dear Annie: I can’t believe there were so many letters about wives not wanting sex. All the women I know would love sex, but the men aren’t interested. Most guys nowadays seem to like Internet sites and videos much better than their wives. My husband is one of them.

I wouldn’t mind if he looked at that stuff as long as he came to me for sex, but I’m lucky if he will make love once or twice a year. We are only 40, and I’m willing to try various things and have been told I’m a hottie. Most guys still look at me as I walk by, yet my husband says I haven’t turned him on in years. — Sexless in Seattle

Dear Seattle: Your husband’s porn viewing has produced a craving for constant novelty, while putting no demands on him. Ask him to go with you for counseling so you can work on this together. If he refuses, go without him.