Annie's Mailbox: Week of Dec 14th

Annie's Mailbox

Dear Annie:

My husband and I have been married for 22 years, and to my knowledge, he has always been committed to me and our family. However, recently he upgraded to a new phone, and I have found he is continually exploring porn and pictures of nude women. I know that all guys look at this from time to time, but now he carries around this mini computer and views it mostly at work. He has also gotten into Facebook. He didn’t previously care what people were doing, but now, all of a sudden, he feels the need to friend everyone he’s ever known. I’ve talked to him about his time on Facebook, and he just brushes it off as “something new.”

I have never felt so insecure in all our years together as I have recently, and I’m at a loss as to how to get past his media cheating on our relationship. Why are most men this way? Can’t we, the ones they vow to love to eternity, be enough? — Problems in Pennsylvania

Dear Problems:

Quit snooping, and start talking with your husband about your concerns. I see nothing wrong with his adding old friends on Facebook, but compulsive viewing of porn can lead to addiction and damage real-world relationships. And if he’s doing this at work, he not only is putting his job at risk but also could face legal consequences if he gets caught. To navigate these volatile, sensitive issues in a way that feels safe for you both, enlist the aid of a marriage counselor. Ask your husband to attend a few sessions, with the goal of reaching an understanding.

Dear Annie:

I’ve seen people writing to you about being bothered by the phrase “no problem” as a response to “thank you.” Here is something else to mull over:

Why is it that store associates, restaurant servers and others feel the need to say “you guys” to customers? For instance: “Can I get you guys some beverages?” This is not just happening at fast-food places. It’s happening in many other businesses in the Northeast.

I am a senior woman, not a “guy.” The servers probably think nothing of it other than as a way to say, “Can I help you?” But being called “you guys” surely puts the hairs up on the back of my neck. Is there a response that would be suitable? What’s wrong with saying, “Can I get anyone a beverage while you look at the menu”? Leave the “you guys” for your friends at the gym. — Not Fond of “You Guys” on Cape Cod

Dear ‘You Guys’:

“You guys” is often regarded as the Northeastern counterpart to “y’all” — a catchall way to address a group, meant to connote warmth with its casualness. Obviously, it’s missing the mark with you, and I’m sure you’re not alone. I’m not sure what the answer is except to make people aware that some are offended by the term. To that end, I’m printing your letter.

Dear Annie:

My wife and I have always enjoyed hosting events for our family over the years. This past July, for a second time, we hosted a cousins reunion, which brought approximately 40 guests to our home. Our home is not huge, so everyone had access to all parts of it. The children ran and played throughout our home, and the adults were happy to socialize inside and outside.

The reason I am writing is that approximately a month after this event, my wife was going to wear her mother’s wedding ring (a gold band with five large diamonds) to a social event, but she discovered it missing from her jewelry box. She had always kept this ring in a special place in her jewelry box, and it was her mother’s most prized possession.

Needless to say, it makes us sick to think that someone would have taken this ring, but we have no idea what else could have happened to it. We have asked our children and grandchildren whether they saw anyone looking through her jewelry box, but they said they saw no one. Nothing else in the jewelry box was disturbed. It is coming up on the holidays, and we usually send out a Christmas newsletter about the year’s events. My wife feels guilty because in her mind, this ring was entrusted to her for safekeeping and she failed her mother. We are at a loss as to what to do. Should we mention the ring in this letter or just let it go? — Feeling Betrayed

Dear Feeling Betrayed:

Jump to conclusions and you’ll land in a mess. There are many explanations for why the ring has gone missing that don’t involve family betrayal. Maybe it was lost or stolen before the reunion; maybe one of the children decided to use it to propose to a crush. I see no harm in including a brief note about it in your family newsletter. The larger your search party the better your odds. But whatever happens, assure your wife it’s not her fault. Try to help her find other ways to honor her mother’s memory.

Dear Annie:

With the holidays fast approaching, I’d like to ask that you please remind your readers not to make promises they will not keep. I work in an assisted living facility. Recently, I took care of one gentleman who sat all day dressed up waiting for his volunteer to come take him out for a meal. He sat and waited and waited. The volunteer called later, around 7 p.m., and said he could not get his car started. I will always remember that incident. We as staff were not allowed to take patients out, or we would have arranged something. Plus, we did call to verify and did not get an answer. So please do not make promises you will not keep. — Heartbreaking to See

Dear Heartbreaking: 

I’m heartbroken just hearing it. Visit

Dear Annie:

Though your response to “Personality Problems” — who is frustrated her husband doesn’t seem to care as much about the grandkids — provided some good pointers, note how focused — or obsessed — the writer is about her grandchildren. She seems very self-satisfied, probably because she is getting everything she wants, with the exception of having her husband want all the same things.

While she’s observing that he never misses the grandkids when they are away traveling, he is probably observing that all she talks about while they’re away is how she wishes she were home so she could see the kids, pressuring him to end the trip earlier.

And is it possible that the reason he has few hobbies or friends is that she does not approve of the things he wants to do or the people he wants to befriend?

What I saw when I read the letter were two people with very different ideas about what retirement should be. Her husband might be more willing to be a good grandfather if he also had the opportunity to satisfy his own needs. — In Similar Shoes

Dear Similar Shoes:

One thing I love about writing this column is that readers are happy to chime in with their own experiences to help fill a story out. Every letter tells one side of a story, but I know there are many other sides out there. You make a great point. Perhaps “Personality Problems” should look inward. Thanks for writing.

Dear Annie:

I know this is short notice, seeing as my question is about Christmas, but I’m hoping that you can publish an answer. I’m quite sure there are others in my shoes.

I have a 9-year-old grandson, “Bradley.” He has been in and out of our lives, mainly because of the fact that his mother, “Jill,” and my son, “Andrew,” are not married and my son is not to have custody of Bradley at all. Jill and Bradley have mainly lived with Jill’s parents.

We have never been as grandparents and grandson should be, but my husband, my daughters and I have tried. I knew this, but his mother finally admitted that one of the reasons she never left him at my house while she ran errands or let him spend the night was that her dad didn’t want him around us. She said her dad (Bradley’s grandpa) was always worried that we’d let Andrew come over and kidnap him — which we would never do.

Anyway, for about a year now, when Bradley does come over, he never talks unless we talk first, and even then he only has one- or two-word answers. Jill has always let him sit in on adult conversations, something I totally disagree with. If she starts talking about how this or that is going wrong in her life, he jumps in and makes sure to give his input, but it’s adult stuff he doesn’t need to know about. We realize he forms his opinions based on what his mother says.

Jill generally only brings him around during holidays, when gifts are in order. We can tell he really doesn’t want to be here but his mother is forcing him to come to get a present. My dilemma:

Do I continue buying gifts for him in the amount that I do for my other grandchildren, the ones I see often? Am I supposed to overlook what Jill is doing and pretend that he is doing nothing wrong? I don’t want to be the grandma who is trying to gift a grandson into coming more, because that has no effect on him anyway. — Christmas in Kentucky