Dear Annie: I am 51, have been married for 17 years and have three kids. A year ago, my wife and I ran into "Sue," an old friend of mine. I had not spoken to her for at least 15 years. We talked briefly and it was somewhat awkward. She was unmarried with a pre-teen son. My wife was a bit put out because Sue did not speak to her very much. The whole interaction lasted about two minutes.

Fast forward to today. I received a call out of the blue from Sue, who tells me she's getting married. She wanted my address so she could invite my family to the wedding. My wife thought this was rather forward of her and I asked what exactly she was so upset about. Sue and I were only friends. We never dated.

My wife refused to give me a good reason why this upset her so much, and we had words. I'd like to go to the wedding because there might be some people attending whom I would enjoy seeing. For me, this is just a wedding of an old friend. For my wife, it's apparently much more, but she cannot or will not tell me why. What should I do? — Without an Explanation

Dear Without: It's actually rather generous of someone with whom you have barely had contact to invite you to her wedding. However, your wife seems irrationally jealous. Is Sue particularly attractive? Your wife may feel you are comparing them and that she comes off poorly. Try reassuring her and see if it helps. But if the choice is to attend the wedding of a lapsed friend or placate your overly sensitive wife, we'd opt to appease your wife. Don't court trouble.

Dear Annie: Both my parents passed away within the past three years. Here's my beef: My wife has two married siblings who live in the area, and neither one of them attended either of the memorial services. Neither of them called us offering their condolences. Neither one sent a sympathy card.

This is upsetting to me. My wife says they probably just didn't know. I say they are socially retarded. What say you? — Orphaned at Middle Age

Dear Orphaned: Our condolences on the loss of your parents. We understand why you are upset, but if, in fact, your wife is correct and her siblings do not know your parents have died, they would have no reason to contact you to express sympathy. If your wife has informed them and they still have not called or sent a card, then we agree they are both insensitive and socially inept. Your wife should tell them that an expression of sympathy would be appreciated, even now.

Dear Annie: After 18 years of a roller-coaster marriage, I find myself divorced. At the time, I thought it was what I wanted. My husband was verbally and emotionally abusive. He would also destroy my personal property and refuse to attend family functions. He placed tape recorders in my car and followed me when I spent an evening with my girlfriends. He retired early, and instead of taking up a hobby, he took up drinking. I finally had enough and called it quits.

I've been on my own for nine months and for some reason find myself missing this man. My life is a lot different, and my financial situation is very stressful. When I was married, I had a beautiful home with lovely gardens and no money worries. I wonder if I should have toughed it out. I have been asked out on dates, but have yet to accept any. I just can't picture myself with another man.

Is it normal to feel this way? My heart is like stone. How do I get back up and running? — Just Sad

Dear Sad: It is perfectly natural for you to feel adrift and unsure. Being on your own after 18 years can create tremendous anxiety, and struggling financially makes you long for the security of being married — even to an abusive alcoholic. Nine months isn't very long to navigate through this process. It will help to find a support network — family members, girlfriends, chat lines, book clubs — any place where you can find people who offer friendship. And while you may not be interested in remarrying, dating can help you get out more and meet new people in different social circles, which will help you adjust. You were strong enough to get out of an abusive marriage, and we know you will find the strength to get through this, too.

Dear Annie: I am an avid baseball fan, but I have one question. When we play Canadian teams (which is quite often), what do we do when we hear the Canadian national anthem? I always stand with my hand over my heart for the American anthem, and I do the same thing for the Canadian anthem. Is that OK? — Michigan Baseball

Dear Michigan: It is appropriate and respectful to stand for the playing of "O, Canada," as well as the national anthems of other countries. Placing your hand over your heart is optional, and fortunately, you do not have to sing along.


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