Dear Annie: I am a divorced woman in my late 30s, with two young sons. My ex-husband is not a good father, but my boys understand that and accept that he will not be a huge part of their lives.
I recently moved in with my significant other, and the boys really like him. He sets a good example of how a man should be and has raised a fine son himself. The problem is, “Harry” is a workaholic. He is 12 years older than I am, and although he makes time to spend with us as a family, he does not make time for intimacy. Sex is good when we have it (about once a month), but it is only sex. No foreplay.
Harry has told me this is because there simply isn’t enough time, but when we take vacations together, there is plenty of time. He just won’t make the effort.
Should I accept this? Should I chalk it up to his being tired? I worry that he has some kind of problem, or that maybe I’m not sexy enough for him. I know he does not have any sexual hang-ups, because I have heard things about his past relationships. How do I approach him about this?
Dear Insecure: If Harry is in his 50s, he may be experiencing some erectile dysfunction, and yes, being tired can have an enormous effect on intimacy. He might have some medical issues he hasn’t told you about, or he might fear you are comparing him to younger men. The only way to know is to talk about it. Ask whether there is a problem and what you can do to help. Offer to go with him for counseling. And although you didn’t ask, we are not in favor of moving in with a man when you have young children. Unless it is a progressive step in an already committed long-term relationship, you are only hurting them emotionally.
Dear Annie: My 21-year-old daughter lives with us, has a good job and does absolutely nothing around the house. She doesn’t pay for Internet, phone, water, food, electric or gas. Her only expenses are her car, insurance and personal bills, so her stepfather and I decided to charge her $300 a month in rent.
She is so bent out of shape that it is a struggle to collect. I told her it was a bargain to pay $300 a month with everything included. Instead, she is disrespectful and swears at us. My husband and I flat-out told her that we would kick her out if she talks to us like that again.
Are we wrong to charge her rent? I think she needs to learn to be responsible, but she says, “Be my mom, not my landlord.” I am so frustrated. Any advice?
— Upset with My Daughter
Dear Upset: If your daughter has a good job, she should be paying you rent and covering her own expenses. She also should clean up after herself, do her own laundry and pitch in with meals. Being her mom means teaching her to be independent and responsible, whether she likes it or not. If she doesn’t want to take advantage of your generous offer, make it clear that she is free to look for a better bargain somewhere else.
Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from “Turning the Other Cheek in New Hampshire,” the man who wrote about the grandchildren wanting kisses.
My first granddaughter was taught from a very early age to throw and blow kisses. As grandparents, we had a lot of fun “catching” her kisses and returning them the same way. With older, more susceptible grandparents, it was a way of showing affection without passing germs. Maybe this suggestion will help.
— Grandmother in Kansas
Dear Grandmother: Most children are taught to throw kisses, which others “catch.” For those who haven’t tried it yet, we hope they will now.
Dear Annie: Your readers might be able to spearhead a movement in this country that would seriously cut down on spreading the flu and may even save lives.
We need a socially appropriate way to greet one another without touching. I like the Vulcan hand sign, although it requires practice. Here’s another idea: Point the right elbow toward the person, with your right hand touching your left arm or shoulder, and nod. The facial expression can indicate how formal it is.
— Windsor, Maine
Dear Windsor: The elbow idea seems rather military, and most ordinary folks can’t manage the Vulcan hand sign, but you make a good point that a non-physical greeting can prevent the spread of germs. Live long and prosper.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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.