Dear Annie: I am 65 years old and in a rather unusual position. My wife, "Lisa," works at an office three hours away. In order to spend less time on the road, Lisa rented an apartment near her office and began to commute home on the weekends. That was eight years ago, and little by little, things reached the point where Lisa comes home only for holidays or social engagements.
However, when she does come home, it ushers in a whole new load of issues. Lisa is in a high-ranking position at work and used to having control over everyone. She tells me what to eat, how to properly care for the dog and what to fix around the house. The worst is how she treats our housekeeper. Lisa makes a list of all the dirty spots the housekeeper has to clean the next time she comes. It's become so intolerable that we have shouting matches in front of our grandchildren.
Should I just make our separation legal? Is therapy in order here? Fed Up in the Southeast
Dear Fed Up: We would never eschew therapy, although it would be best if it included Lisa. Chances are, your wife is asserting her authority with such belligerence because she feels guilty and is trying to make up for her absence. Also, she fears losing her position in the family and wants to make sure you remember.
Instead of shouting, try calmly explaining to Lisa why her take-charge attitude is causing a problem. You also might ask her to re-evaluate the importance of her job versus your marriage. Sounds like one of them is going to lose out.
Dear Annie: I'm writing in response to "Not Only a Boys' Team Anymore," whose daughter, "Lanie," is the only girl on her baseball team.
When I was 8 years old, I also played on a boys' baseball team, and at first, everyone was weird about me being the only girl. But after I showed them that their remarks didn't bother me and only made me want to be better, they were on my side.
Thanks to all that, I started playing girls' fast-pitch softball in middle school, then varsity fast-pitch in high school. I just finished my first year of collegiate softball. To Lanie, I say, don't let their remarks burn you up. Be strong, and show the boys that baseball isn't just a boys' sport anymore. Best of luck. Arizona Softball
Dear Arizona: Good for you. Your words of encouragement will inspire Lanie and all girls in her position. Here's one more:
Dear Annie: I was a Little League coach and I, too, had a girl on my team and a boy who was a bully, with a father to match. Every time the bully would say hurtful things, I would make him apologize and then run laps. His father didn't like this and had words with me. I informed Dad that there is no "I" in "team," and if he did not like my discipline, he could take his son home and not come back.
I also told the father that if he continued to give his two cents' to my players, I would remove his son from the team and have him banned from the league. We had no more problems from the father after that, and his son was in tip-top shape from all the laps he ran. Coach in Corona, Calif.
Dear Annie: Thank you for straightening out that 25-year-old woman who wants "the works" for her wedding because "that's what daddies and grandparents are for." And thank you for all your other attempts to bring a little common sense to weddings. Please continue to chastise those who believe a wedding reception is the place for bratty children, drunks, dirty jokes, bouquet wrestlers and cake face-smashers. As you said, "Once a new custom is perpetuated, everyone believes it is acceptable. It isn't." Please repeat that loudly and often. Not a Curmudgeon
Dear Not: We'll do our best. Thanks for the backup.
XE-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.