Dear Annie: My husband passed away last month. His six children (who are my age) were never fans of our marriage, even though their father was happy for the 10 years we were together. They never considered me a part of their family. Only one of his children attended the funeral. I have not received a condolence card from any of them, although one called to express sympathy. Another called wanting things belonging to her father.
I loved my husband, but his unwillingness to insist that his children include me in their lives was always a problem. I made every effort to have a relationship with them, but they were not at all interested and some were outright hostile. My children accepted my husband into their lives and loved him as part of the family.
So here’s my question. Since they never wanted anything to do with me, is it best if I just let this side of my family go or do I try to keep in touch? I was raised to think that family meant something. Should I just move on? – New Widow
Dear Widow: Our condolences on the death of your husband. You should do as much as you are comfortable with when it comes to his children, without expecting closeness in return. Do you want to send holiday cards? Sure. Birthday cards? Fine. Presents for the grandchildren? If you like. But if there is a total lack of reciprocity and it makes you resentful, it’s perfectly OK to stop. While we agree that family should mean something, these stepchildren don’t consider you to be “family.” We’d give it a one-year try and see what happens, but you are not obligated to stress yourself out in an effort to create what is neither wanted nor appreciated.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Old and Trapped,” who resents her husband now that he’s retired and refuses to help around the house. When I first read the letter I laughed, and then it truly ticked me off.
I, too, am in my 70s, raised five children and was married 54 years to the most remarkable man I ever met. He worked every day, sick or well, to enable me to be a homemaker and stay-at-home mother. He had no such freedom. I made sure all of my duties and social gatherings were completed while he was at work and we spent evenings and weekends together. He provided every material thing we needed.
So your husband wants to stay in the house he worked so hard for. Why not? There are only two of you. Close the other bedroom doors and leave them be. You have laundry for only two. You make meals for only two. You are intent on making the man who worked so hard for you miserable. I would thank God every day for him. I would sit with him and surf the TV channels. He sounds like a decent man who is in it for the long haul. – A Woman Blessed With a Retired Lover
Dear Woman: You have a charmingly retro attitude, and we suspect your husband shows his appreciation for you in many ways. Not all women are as fortunate, and when retirement hits, they resent the ungrateful husband who expects to be waited on. There is no reason a retired spouse cannot do his or her share around the house.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.