Dear Annie: My father-in-law recently passed away. My family has expressed to me their sympathy and asked me to send their love and condolences to my wife, which I have done. However, my wife is upset that none of them contacted her directly to say anything, even at my daughter's recent birthday party. They greeted my wife with hugs, but none asked how she was doing or said they were sorry.

I know my family cares and probably thought it was better not to say anything (especially at the party) that might upset her. They've tried to be supportive by helping with the kids. I've explained to my wife that it's hard for some people to know what to say. But she is really disappointed and upset. Still, it seems too late to change anything now.

Annie, what is someone expected to say or do when a friend or relative's loved one passes? —Gary in Golden State

Dear Gary: For heaven's sake, tell your parents they must express their sympathy to your wife as soon as possible. She needs to hear it, and any direct expression of concern is better than nothing. We'll help: "Laura, we are so sorry we haven't said anything about your father's passing. We thought it would upset you, but we should have spoken up earlier. You must miss him terribly. Please know you have been in our thoughts."

Dear Annie: I am a widow. I met a good man back in 2003 and we hit it off really well. I moved in with him at the end of the year. I am 54 and "Lou" is 50. He has always been a bachelor, with no kids. He's met my two grown children and my seven grandkids. At first everything was wonderful, but little by little, I'm noticing all the things he dislikes about kids.

Lou is reclusive and doesn't enjoy company. He also doesn't like to go out much. He asked me to marry him, bought my rings and started planning a wedding. Then, after a while, he never brought up the wedding anymore, and with that cue, I didn't bring it up either. I finally moved out of his house last year and moved in with my brother. I still spend the night at his house on occasion.

My thing is, I want marriage, and he keeps telling me that it "could happen later on in life." At one time, he said if he were to get married, I'd be the woman he would choose. I'm tired of spending nights at his house and would like something more permanent.

Should I just move on or continue the arrangement we have? This man is a wonderful person in all other ways. What should I do? —Baltimore Widow

Dear Widow: There are reasons Lou has remained a bachelor. If you want marriage, look elsewhere because this man is not going to take the plunge. If you are content to have him as an occasional companion, that's fine, too. There is no right or wrong option. Decide what is best for YOU, and then you will know what to do about Lou.

Dear Annie: I would like to respond to "Distraught Mother-in-Law," who saw her son-in-law's e-mail inbox with a "reply" from a dating Web site. She should calm down and learn something about junk e-mail.

Spammers typically craft junk e-mails to look like a response to a request. I have received tons of e-mails with subject lines that read, "Here's the nude photo you wanted" or "Your credit application has been approved."

Spammers know you are more likely to check out an e-mail if it appears to be something you wanted rather than a blatant ad pitch.—Junk E-Mail Savvy

Dear Savvy: Many readers suggested the "reply" was spam, and we suspect this is the case (you should see OUR mailbox). We hope "Distraught" talked to her son-in-law before jumping to conclusions.


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.