Shortly after "Mike" and I married, I found out some disturbing things about his parents, whom I thought I knew quite well. It seems Mike's father has had numerous affairs, and when Mike and his brothers were little, he would have the boys wait in the car while he visited massage parlors. And then, six months ago, we were denied a mortgage because, to my complete surprise, Mike had more than $5,000 in delinquent credit-card debt. It was a shock to Mike when he learned of this, but he knew immediately what had happened. It seems his mother had taken out a credit card in his name, and did not keep up with the payments. When he confronted her about it, she admitted it.
It has been several months since I discovered all of this disturbing information, and I am trying to put it behind me, but I am still furious. I no longer have any respect or affection for Mike's parents, and this has put a big strain on our marriage. I suggested to Mike that he sue his mother for credit-card fraud so we would not be held responsible for those debts, but he said under no circumstances would he consider it. He chose to pay the $5,000 himself and clean up his own credit record.
Mike and I have a baby now, and I am still upset. Exactly what do I owe his parents? Do I have to be nice to them for Mike's sake? Please answer soon. All this pressure is making a wreck out of me.
Family Problems in Indiana
Please don't let Mike's family and their trashy behavior ruin your marriage. Forget about suing his mother. It would become a matter of public record, and a real mess.
You ask what you owe Mike's parents. Even though you have some serious issues with them, you owe them civility and respect--if for no other reason than because they are the grandparents of your child. Easy to do? Of course not, but it will strengthen your marriage, and Mike will be forever grateful to you for your generosity of spirit. Trust me.
When I read the letter from "Smarter Now in Florida," I knew I had to write. She noticed an appealing personal ad, and then realized it had been placed by her ex-husband and was loaded with falsehoods. She warned your readers against finding a solid relationship through a personal ad, and said, "There are no bargains out there." The truth is, if a woman is cynical and negative, she will never find the right mate. If she is open and optimistic, her chances are good.
No more searching in bars for me. I've been there and done that. After 20 years with liars, cheats, moochers and alcoholics, I took a chance and placed a personal ad in the paper. It took several coffee dates before I found the love of my life. After the first meeting, we saw each other every day. He proposed two weeks later. He said he knew we were meant for each other the first night, but it took me a little longer. (I didn't know until 10 days later.) We have been married for seven years, and couldn't be happier.
Ads can work, but like all such meetings, honesty and sincerity are the key. Persistence and careful screening can lead to the right person. I'm living proof. Believe me, Ann, it's worth the effort.
C.B., Grand Rapids, Mich.
I'm glad it worked for you, but again, I issue this warning: Always meet in a public place. Have your own transportation, and go home alone. After the third or fourth meeting, invite him to pick you up at your place, but don't go to his place until you are sure he's okay.
Gem of the Day: Isn't it strange that parents spend the first three years of a child's life teaching him or her to walk and talk, and throughout the rest of his or her childhood, they tell the kid to sit down and be quiet?
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.