Annie’s Mailbox: Will I inherit in-law’s baggage? |

Annie’s Mailbox: Will I inherit in-law’s baggage?

Dear Annie: After four years, I finally got engaged to “Thomas.”

Thomas is 50 years old. Until last year, he lived with his widowed 68-year-old mother. She treats him like a husband. When we became engaged, Thomas seemed afraid to tell her. When he did, she just stared at me. She treats me coldly and has told friends that Thomas was perfectly happy with her until I came along.

Thomas bought all the furniture and appliances in her home, does all the repair work and pays the mortgage, taxes and homeowners insurance. Mom has created ever more debt and complains constantly about not having enough money. Thomas and I rent a small house together and are struggling to make ends meet. I resent being saddled with her debts.

The deed to his mother’s house is in both of their names, with right of survivorship. Thomas has a brother and sister who are always looking for a handout. Could they get the house when she dies? After we marry, would I be responsible for this house debt? Am I making a mistake by marrying Thomas?

— Waiting To Hear

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Dear Waiting: If Thomas and his mother own the house jointly, with right of survivorship, his siblings should not be able to get their hands on it.

As for being responsible for Mom’s debt, every state is different. We recommend you talk to a lawyer about protecting yourself in advance. After all these years, Thomas and his mother have a very tight bond, and she is going to resist your efforts to change it. How that plays out is up to Thomas and the way he handles her.

We also urge you to make a friend out of this lonely woman, or she will make you miserable.

Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married 19 years. In all that time, she has not updated her wardrobe. She purchases a new item from time to time, and I make sure to tell her she looks great.

But for the most part, she still wears things that are out of style, ill-fitting or just plain old. Worse, these clothes are not flattering.

My wife is in great shape. I would love for her to have a wardrobe makeover so she looks like the classy lady she is, and not like the “Frumpelstiltskin” she appears to be. How can I inspire her to clothe herself according to the 21st century?

— Wardrobe Malfunction

Dear Wardrobe: How refreshing to hear from a man who actually wants his wife to spend money on clothes. Many women get stuck wearing the same comfortable outfits. Take some pictures so she can see how she actually looks, and then talk to her about it. Tell her how beautiful she is and that an update would make her feel vibrant and contemporary. Good luck.

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