KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox 10-year relationship now half a relationship
Dear Annie: I just turned 58, and "John" is 67. We have been seeing each other about 10 years, and I thought he was my best friend. We live in different towns, but John would come here twice a week, and we took turns on the weekends traveling to each other's place. We talk on the phone every day. When we were together, we always ate out, went to many fun places and traveled on expensive trips.
In the last year, John has changed. He still calls every day, but everything else has come to a halt. We never go out to eat anymore. He always wants me to come to his place on the weekend, which is about a 75-mile drive, and bring groceries so we can eat at home. I pay for most of the food, and he never offers to carry the bags inside the house or help with my luggage.
John never wants to do anything fun. He sleeps in his lounge chair or watches the weather channel for hours. I clean John's house and do his laundry. He comes to the table when I yell that lunch or dinner is served. And every weekend he has some new ailment to complain about.
I'm beginning to think the daily calls are simply a way for him to control things. Believe me, there is no sex, so it can't be that. He contributes absolutely nothing to the relationship. I am sad and upset, and I know I should stop seeing him, but I just can't seem to say no when he phones. I think it's because at my age, there is nothing and no one. What should I do? Sad Old Lady
Dear Sad: Honey, you're 58, not Methuselah. It sounds as if John is feeling tired, and possibly has some physical ailments that are beginning to take a toll on his energy. That daily phone call may be the best he can manage.
You are too young to be stuck in a one-sided relationship where you provide meals and laundry service, and John is content to be treated as an invalid. Suggest that he see his doctor and find out why he is suddenly so lethargic. If nothing changes, you need to find the strength to move on with your life, even if that means getting a new phone number.
Dear Annie: Please comment on gun safety. My husband and two teen-age sons have 18 rifles and three handguns in the house. Seven years ago, when the first rifle was bought, they promised it would be locked up. Now, the gun cabinet sits unlocked, the boys have rifles in their bedrooms, and the ammunition sits in open boxes in the garage because they haven't had time to put it away. I'm told my concerns are ridiculous. Are they? City Girl
Dear City Girl: No, your concerns are perfectly sensible. Even the NRA says to store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
Your kids have friends who could easily get to those guns and ammo without anyone's knowledge. You may have visitors with small children who think guns are toys. Your husband and sons are being lazy and shortsighted if they believe their actions can't have consequences beyond their own intentions. Insist that they shape up before there is a tragic accident.
Dear Annie: I have a couple of words of wisdom for "Disgruntled, Loving Husband." He was at a sporting event, and his wife thought it was fun to flirt on her cell phone with a stranger across the arena. Tell him that women outnumber men two-to-one and she can easily be replaced. North Carolina
Dear N.C.: Ouch.