Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 30 years. We each have adult children from previous marriages. One, “Luella,” only wants a relationship when it suits her. We don’t hear from her on Father’s Day, but if you miss something for her, she’s “hurt.” She’s a taker, not a giver.
A year ago, Luella had a baby. We asked about visiting, but Luella simply didn’t respond. We offered to help when the baby came home from the hospital, but were told they wanted to “bond as a family,” and we respected that. Finally, in desperation, I put the ball in her court. She didn’t like it one bit, but after a particularly vitriolic email, she finally gave us a date to come visit.
Luella lives across the country, and it’s not easy to get there, financially and physically. We would be willing to go if we felt we were welcome. So should we go or wait until she is more eager to see us? We don’t want to be labeled as disinterested grandparents, nor do we want to be resented. The joy of meeting our new granddaughter has been diminished by Luella’s attitude. What would you do? — The Undoubtedly Wicked Stepmother
Dear Stepmother: Go. Luella will never be “more eager.” Yes, her hand was forced, but you arranged that, so take advantage. Don’t make this about Luella. It’s about seeing your grandchild. Stay in a hotel if you can manage it. Bring a house gift for the parents, as well as a gift for the baby. Be sweet and pleasant. Some children are simply difficult, and you must deal with them as they are in order to stay in their lives.
Dear Annie: I have been married for 25 years. My husband is a wonderful father and provider. The problem is, he never compliments me or shows affection in public, such as a kiss on the cheek or an arm around my shoulder. I can count on one hand the number of times he has told me I look nice, yet he will say that other women are gorgeous. This hurts my feelings and makes me feel insecure.
He has a lot of interests that keep him busy, so we don’t spend much time together. I hate to nag by asking him to cut back on his hobbies, even though I have mentioned that I would appreciate it. Am I being too sensitive? — Feeling Insecure and Unappreciated
Dear Insecure: Your sensitivity is perfectly understandable, but after 25 years, you need to decide what you can tolerate. Your husband is never going to be Mr. Romance. You might get him to spend more time with you if you schedule activities that interest him. The fact that he comments on other women doesn’t mean he finds you less attractive, only that it’s easier to express these things about strangers than about someone he is close to. If his other qualities make up for these deficiencies, please accept his limitations. Otherwise, consider counseling.