KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Developing zero-tolerance policy toward abuse
Dear Annie: I am 28 years old and read your column daily. The problem is my boyfriend, "Dave." He went overboard last month and hit me in front of our two young children. Of course, he was arrested, and a restraining order was issued. We both know what he did was wrong, and he apologized to me and the kids.
The problem is, no one seems to understand that I love this man. We've been together for 10 years. Dave agrees that he needs counseling but won't go unless I go, too. My family is furious, but they don't know him like I do. Annie, can this relationship be saved? The Lost One
Dear Lost One: What was the overboard part -- that he hit you, or that he did it in front of the kids? Dave is right that both of you need counseling -- him to work on controlling himself, and you to figure out why you put up with such abusive and demeaning behavior. Men who take their anger and frustration out on others are likely to do it again.
Please take the blinders off your eyes and see what your family sees. As far as we're concerned, you should have a zero-tolerance policy for being hit, no matter how much you love this man.
You need to get out of this relationship entirely. The Family Violence Council recommends developing a safety plan through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (800-799-7233) (ndvh.org). Please call today.
Dear Annie: My daughter is a 40-year-old professor at a leading university. She has a wonderful husband and two bright children. But her house is so dirty, I find it very difficult to visit.
Recently, "Lesley" was asked to address a national medical group, and her superior had to suggest that she comb her hair before attending the meeting. My daughter told me this, laughingly, but I know her superior was serious. Her children are not taught any rules of cleanliness, and everything in that house goes on the floor, which is often gritty. Her husband is worse than she is.
Occasionally, when I am there, I will clean one room, but it is not appreciated. Lesley takes it as a condemnation, even though I say nothing. I have casually suggested that she get help in the house, as she works hard, and she replies, "Yes, as soon as money becomes a bit freer, I will." Of course, I would like to add that her husband should be contributing to the household duties, but I'm afraid to open that can of worms. Any suggestions? Cleanliness Brings Comfort to Life
Dear Cleanliness: It's hard to watch your child live in a pigsty, but that is her choice. Is there an underlying problem, perhaps depression or OCD, that requires therapy? If you can afford it, offer cleaning help. Say, "Lesley, you are so busy, the housework must be overwhelming. I'd like to send a cleaning service this month as a birthday gift." If she is resistant to this idea, back off. If you cannot bear to be in her house, invite them to yours instead, so they can see the value in having a home where you can find clean things. There's really nothing more you can do.
Dear Annie: This is for your readers who are reluctant to visit grandparents in the nursing home. I always have encouraged my children, when in the presence of the aged, to ask them how they met their spouse. It elicits many old memories and gives the young a chance to see that the elderly have led colorful lives and are willing to talk about it. This, in turn, brings more questions from the children. It works every time, even with my mother who lived to 97 and had dementia. Any question about the past brings sparks of happiness to the visit. No Name in West Virginia
Dear W.Va.: Thank you for an excellent suggestion. Most people love to reminisce, especially those for whom earlier memories are the strongest.
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.