Show a lit­tle love

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

DEAR AN­NIE >> I am hav­ing a prob­lem with my mother-in-law and my hus­band. She is a con­trol freak who wants to con­trol my hus­band. His sis­ter died a year ago, and his mother told him she wanted to have a me­mo­rial din­ner at our house. She never spoke to me about it. In fact, she doesn’t speak to me at all, due to a prior bad ex­pe­ri­ence.

After she sold her house, she moved in with us. She was with us for over a year, even though it was only sup­posed to be for a cou­ple of months. She told peo­ple that I had put her out, and she con­tin­ues to talk like this about me. My hus­band will not speak up about any­thing. I don’t want her here again, not even for a visit. She is a mis­er­able woman. We have been mar­ried for 23 years. How do I han­dle this sit­u­a­tion?

— Ready for Di­vorce

DEAR READY FOR DI­VORCE >> In­stead of be­ing ready for a di­vorce, try show­ing some em­pa­thy. Your moth­erin-law lost her daugh­ter. No mat­ter what age she was when her daugh­ter passed away, she has out­lived her child, which is the ul­ti­mate night­mare for any par­ent. Please show her some pa­tience and love. She may not have wanted the me­mo­rial din­ner at her house be­cause the mem­ory of her daugh­ter was too raw and painful. As for her gos­sip­ing about you, try to cut her some slack. I re­ally think it’s time for you to change your per­spec­tive on your mother-in­law from a mis­er­able woman to a mother who lost her daugh­ter and is still griev­ing.

It sounds like your hus­band wants noth­ing to do with any of it — be­cause he feels help­less in know­ing he can­not con­trol ei­ther of you. Tell him your feel­ings and ask for his help. You might be sur­prised by the re­sults.

DEAR AN­NIE >> Re­cently while wait­ing in line in a store, I heard the young clerk, maybe high school or col­lege age, say, “Hi, Sweet­heart” to the 40-ish woman ahead of me. Whether it both­ered her or not wasn’t ap­par­ent. Sure enough, the young man ad­dressed me with the same “Hi, Sweet­heart.” I am 65. I qui­etly said, “I am not ‘sweet­heart,”’ and let him know his greet­ing was very in­ap­pro­pri­ate. I smiled while leav­ing and said, “Thank you and have a good day.”

Surely, the young man meant no harm, but stores that have staff work­ing with the pub­lic should give them sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing for ad­dress­ing cus­tomers. Call­ing all women “sweet­heart” can be seen as pa­tron­iz­ing and stereo­typ­ing to women as neg­a­tive words that some use for peo­ple of dif­fer­ent races. Some women may think it’s OK or even cute, but why take the chance? Just teach staff to say, “good morn­ing,” or “af­ter­noon” — or some­thing else generic — to ev­ery­one and smile.

— Ma’am Would Be Fine

DEAR MA’AM >> Thank you for your let­ter. While it doesn’t make it the right thing to do, I think most peo­ple who re­fer to you as “sweet­heart” are do­ing so out of kind­ness. They are most likely just try­ing to be friendly. I hope that brings you some com­fort the next time it hap­pens.

I am print­ing your let­ter as a re­minder to peo­ple that call­ing some­one “sweet­heart” or “honey” is usu­ally not the best way to go.

“Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear An­nie” is out now! An­nie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, fam­ily and eti­quette — is avail­able as a pa­per­back and ebook.

Visit http://www. cre­ator­spub­lish­ing.com for more in­for­ma­tion. Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dear­an­[email protected]­ators.com.

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