Editor’s Note: Annie Lane is off this week. The following column was originally published in October 2016.
Dear Annie: I am a soon-to-be divorced man who has suffered a great deal of pain after the collapse of my lengthy marriage.
After enduring the dissolution of multiple post-separation relationships, I found what in many ways is the perfect woman. As we have gotten to know each other, however, we have found huge ideological gulfs between us.
My significant other does not vote. She does not believe in vaccination. Her disapproval of the gay lifestyle extends to having animosity toward gay individuals. She believes they flaunt a deviance that they have chosen. She believes in conspiracy theories, putting stock in the theory that the Pentagon was damaged by a missile in 2001, that there was no plane that flew into it. Her positions rankle me.
Do you believe that a relationship between individuals who are opposites in many respects can survive and thrive? – Night and Day
Dear Night: There are the sorts of pairs that are complementary “opposites,” who together find balance and more meaning through each other, e.g., yin and yang, night and day, peanut butter and jelly. But your pairing sounds more like Pop Rocks and soda – explosive and causing much bellyaching.
My question for you is: Why the rush into dating? I suggest you put that on hold until your divorce is finalized. Once you’ve turned the last page in that painful chapter of your life, you can attempt to start fresh. You are used to being in a relationship and may compulsively be seeking a woman to fill that role. Don’t be in such a rush to partner up that you settle for someone and find yourself wanting to excuse away major issues.
Dear Annie: I’m a 14-year-old boy from New Jersey. I just started high school and am involved in clubs and on the junior varsity football team. I’m not a straight-A student, but I make pretty good grades, mostly B’s and some A’s.
My parents got divorced when I was really little; I barely remember it. Both of them have since remarried. I live with my mom and stepdad most of the time (spending some weekends with my dad).
I have an elder brother, who is 17, and a little brother, who is 4. My elder brother has had all sorts of problems since he was about 12 or 13. He has anger issues and shows our parents no respect, even cursing them out sometimes. He has slacked off in school and done things like faking signatures on failing tests he was supposed to take home to show our mom. I know there have been plenty of other incidents that my family has tried to keep secret from me to protect me.
Last year, they sent him to a program on a ranch for three months. It was kind of like a school/camp/rehab for troubled teens. He was responsible for taking care of animals there, and it seemed to help him a lot. But less than a month after he got back, he started going back to his old bad ways again.
My parents are always so busy dealing with my brother’s issues that I feel as if they barely even notice me. I sometimes feel as if I’m being punished for being the good kid. What can I do to make them take more notice of me? – Middle Child
Dear Middle: It’s not easy being golden. You’re a great blessing in your parents’ lives, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they know it, but they’re focusing their attention on the ongoing crises with your elder brother. Tell them how you feel. It might not exactly be fair that you have to remind them you need attention, too, but it’s fortunate for your family to have someone as mature and patient as you on the team.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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