Dear Annie: My husband and I are at an age where many of our friends have retired. We have not. We started a business together five years ago, and fortunately, it is doing extremely well. We plan to retire in another five years. In the meantime, we're working very hard, both physically and mentally, but enjoy it.
The problem? Our retired friends cannot seem to amuse themselves without us. I'm aware that this sounds egotistical, but one friend actually waits for us in our driveway when we get in from work. The others call several times a week to try to arrange dinner out or some other social engagement. When I explain that we just walked in the door and are exhausted, I'm "scolded" for always being too busy. Their favorite expression is, "We're human beings, not human doings."
I know your answer to this type of question would be to have a frank talk with these friends, but no matter how kindly I put it, I'm sure it would hurt their feelings. So, I'd like to take the coward's way out and ask that you print this advice to retired folks and others who want to be "good friends":
Please call before stopping by. It's good manners and will make you a more welcome guest when we are up for your company. And when we say we're too tired, too busy, or would just like to do nothing for a while, please accept it graciously. And maybe, just maybe, you should round out your own lives a bit more.
Annie, these are all terrific, quality people with whom we hope to enjoy many more years of friendship. We just don't have the energy to do it at the end of our work day. -- Exhausted, but Happy
Dear Exhausted: Your retired friends are probably a little bored, and they enjoy your company. Since you aren't asking for advice, however, we're happy to let you use this space for a perfectly good message -- whether one is retired or not.
Dear Annie: I need to respond to "Mother-in-Law," who said most wives have no reason to have a bad opinion of their mothers-in-law. I'm sorry to say that sometimes it's justified.
I have really tried to look past my mother-in-law's nasty attitude toward me, my family and even my children, but after 40 years, I've had it. My mother-in-law is critical of everyone, even her own son who has helped her through every crisis in her life. His sister, who spends months traveling all over the world, somehow couldn't afford a plane ticket to come home when her father was dying. Yet my mother-in-law told my daughter that my husband "wasn't helping at all" and his sister "helps a lot." When our daughter, who is a size 6 and has suffered with bulimia in the past, recently went to visit her grandmother, Grandma told her she was getting fat. And she wonders why no one wants to spend time with her.
If our son ever marries and I treat his family the way my mother-in-law has treated us, I deserve every negative comment that is made about me. -- Hope to Do Better in Pennsylvania
Dear Better: People should be judged individually, not on their family position. Your mother-in-law sounds toxic, and her reputation is deserved. Most are not.
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