Dear Annie: My mother-in-law has a heart of gold and always tries to help out — even when it is not welcome.
My husband is in the military, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. When he leaves on deployment, his mother takes charge of his bills and decides how much of an allowance I get for groceries, gas, etc.
I have told my husband that I would like him to give me control of my own house. I know he tells his mother this, but she either won’t listen or doesn’t understand. I have no idea how to talk to her about this, and his next deployment is in a couple of months. Any suggestions?
— Overwhelmed Daughter-in-Law
Dear Overwhelmed: How does his mother get access to his bills? Are his paychecks coming to her? Since talking to Mom doesn’t help, your husband must set things up so that his income and household bills come directly to you. If you are living with Mom, he can open a post office box or have you pay some of the bills online. He must be willing to do this, or the situation will not change. Unless, of course, the money for these bills is coming out of Mom’s pocket. In that case, she has every right to manage the household and give you an allowance.
Dear Annie: My dad is in his 70s and is way past obese. He is so big, he becomes breathless walking from one room to another. Even when he is sitting, you can hear him fighting to breathe normally.
There are many siblings in our family. When we have holiday get-togethers, we see what is happening and grow increasingly upset about Dad’s overall health. Mom says she tries to control his food intake during the year, but he continues to get bigger and bigger. Since he refuses to talk about the issue, my brother wrote him a long letter telling him all of our concerns. Dad thanked him for the letter and then never spoke about it again.
My problem is, I can barely speak to him, let alone look at him. I think he is being very selfish by doing nothing to help himself. One of these days, he will leave our mother alone, and in the meantime, we have to watch him slowly kill himself.
Both of my parents read your column daily, so your perspective would be appreciated.
— Son of a Portly Pop
Dear Son: Please try to forgive your father for finding his weight too overwhelming and depressing to fix. It is so difficult for him to move that exercise seems out of the question, and he has become fatalistic about his chances for survival, so why bother to eat properly? Part of his breathing difficulties may also be because of other medical or psychological causes, although his size undoubtedly exacerbates whatever else is going on.
Dad should first see his doctor. Perhaps Mom would be willing to talk to a nutritionist about healthy meals that will fill him up without filling him out. You also can suggest that she (or one of you) ask Dad to come on a slow, short walk after dinner to encourage him to move a little bit more. But if none of this works, it serves no purpose to be angry because stress will only make it worse. Right now, this is the best he can do.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Going Gray and Loving It.” I do not color my hair. Instead, I wear a sweatshirt that reads, “Gray is the new Blonde.” Everyone who sees it loves it.
— Also Loving My Gray
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.