Annie's Mailbox for Jan. 20, 2011: Worried about husband's drinking

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Dear Annie: My husband has several friends he's known for years. All of them are heavy drinkers. "Tom" is not a big drinker, but when he is with these friends, he gets sloppy drunk.

We are in our 60s, and for medical reasons, Tom should not be drinking at all. Worse, he drives home after these binges. It often happens around sporting events. His friends will get him tickets, and although we discuss the drinking ahead of time, it doesn't help. When I call his cell phone and get no response, I know he's getting drunk. I pace the floor until he arrives home safely.

This behavior is taking a toll on me and our relationship. Tom knows how dangerous the drinking is, but his male ego and his friends are apparently more important than his health or anything else. These guys know Tom has medical problems, but they don't care.

Tom is not an alcoholic. He rarely drinks at home and has no difficulty leaving booze in the refrigerator for months. I have nothing against him having a beer, but drinking and driving or drinking heavily with all the medications he's on worries me to death.

Last night he came home smashed after attending a basketball game, and it was the last straw. I told him I don't want him attending any more sporting events. Is there a better way to handle this?

— No Name, No Place

Dear No Name: Tom may not be an alcoholic, but he certainly has a drinking problem. He has difficulty controlling his liquor intake with these friends, even though he knows it is destroying his health and could wreck his marriage. Al-Anon is an organization dedicated to helping friends and family of those who have problems with alcohol. Please give them a try at 1-888-4-AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) (al-anon.alateen.org). They will have suggestions for you.

Dear Annie: Our mother is an awesome person, and we enjoy spending time with her, but it has to be limited. She has to direct everything, and it has to be done her way or not at all. She is very good at couching criticism in small, underhanded comments, and she knows how to push everyone's buttons.

The problem is, Mom has asked us to take her on a cruise or road trip, and we all know we will be nuts before the first day is done. Is there a way to tell her that while we love her, we don't want to travel with her?

— Avoiding Travel Brochures

Dear Travel: Adult children are not obligated to travel with their parents, and it is OK to say you prefer to keep your vacations separate. But some parents are in the habit of bossing their kids around, and although you are grown and capable of making your own decisions, Mom's behavior toward you is ingrained. She may not realize how it prevents you from enjoying her company. If you don't tell her when she does annoying things, she won't have the opportunity to change. But tell her nicely. With love. And humor, if you can manage it.

Dear Annie: When "My Two Cents' Worth" suggested that you might want to solicit some male input about women changing their names, you said, "When men are expected to take their wife's surname upon marriage, we'll be happy to ask for their input."

You and I know that will never happen, and that made your response narrow-minded. So, I'm going to give you a dose of your own medicine. As a guy, I will never need advice from a couple of feminists with their noses in the air.

— Content

Dear Content: Oh, get over yourself. We've printed plenty of opinions from men on this subject, but we don't believe the decision to change one's maiden name belongs to those who don't have to experience it. That would be like letting a woman decide how a man should feel about his erectile dysfunction.

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