Dear Annie: My husband and I have been friends with "Archie and Betty" for 20 years. Betty is my true tell-everything, do-everything, knows-everything best friend, and our husbands are also "best buds." As in many friendships, one side tends to go the extra mile. My husband and I have felt a lack of loyalty at times, but always decided the friendship was worth it.

Recently, Betty and Archie did something we never would have expected (involving one of our children and grandchildren). It was something you simply don't do to people who are like family. The feeling of betrayal is overwhelming. My husband cannot get through a day without saying, "I am so mad, I'm beside myself."

I called Betty the evening the incident happened and left a message on her machine and sent her an e-mail. She didn't call back, but her e-mail reply was very defensive. She said if she had it to do over, "maybe we'd do it differently." I'm sure that's the closest to an apology we will ever get. Archie has made no attempt to talk to my husband. Once again, they've left it to us to make the first move, but this time, I think they bear the responsibility of reaching out and trying to make this right.

We saw Betty at the store a few days ago, and she waved and smiled like everything was fine. We walked right past her. I have heard nothing since.

I don't know what to do. My husband refuses to be the one who "caves" and fixes a friendship that their actions have repeatedly shown is not important to them. Do we forgive or let it evolve into something smaller? I'm just lost. —Sweetieless

Dear Sweetieless: The loss of a close friendship can be devastating, but we agree that Archie and Betty have to make the first move. Otherwise, you will feel resentful that, once again, you had to bear the brunt of maintaining a friendship with people who apparently don't care as much, and you will never be able to trust them again. (We're not sure why you trusted them before.) If they refuse to make a sincere effort to mend the friendship, we're sorry to say, it's over.

Dear Annie: We have some friends we enjoy getting together with, but there is one problem: their kids. They have two adult daughters. When I invite our friends over, if I say, "Bring the girls," they will. But if I don't include them, their father goes to my husband and says how much the girls would like to see us, and my husband always says, "Sure, bring them along."

They made it clear to me years ago that I should never bring our kids to their house because their daughters didn't want to entertain them. My kids don't even know what their house looks like. I guess I assumed when their children got older, they would go their own way, but they have not. I realize I should have dealt with this years ago. How do I deal with it now? —Unwilling Hostess

Dear Hostess: Don't specifically invite the girls. If the parents ask if they can come, reply with a smile, "Sorry, not this time. We want it to be just the four of us." If they are surprised, too bad. Don't back down. Make sure your husband practices those words, too, because it sounds as if he may require a spine transplant.

Dear Annie: This is for "Melancholy in Massachusetts," whose wife has rejected their 13-year-old son.

When my daughter was younger, I treated her very unfairly. As a result, she suffered from low self-esteem and depression and is still battling it. At the time, I had hypothyroidism and was perimenopausal and depressed, but refused help. Now I wish I could get those years back. Every day, I try to undo the damage I did to my child. I beg this mother to wake up before it is too late. Get help and you will enjoy life, too. —Praying for Them

Dear Readers: Today is Flag Day and the 29th Annual National Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance at 5 p.m. MDT.


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.