Husband needs to command family's respect

DEAR ANNIE:My husband is a high-ranking officer in the military. He has worked hard to achieve his current position and is highly respected.

The problem is, his family treats him like a child. In a few months, there will be a formal ceremony to mark his change of command. My in-laws will be in attendance, and they are certain to embarrass him. They insist on calling him by his unusual childhood nickname (he cringes every time). They talk down to him and give him gifts meant for children, such as books for teen boys (last Christmas), a small child's backpack (last birthday) and now a child's piggy bank, which they intend to present to him in front of his unit at the ceremony. These gifts are not intended as jokes. My husband is always gracious on the outside but horrified on the inside.

Is there some way to remind his family that he is indeed an adult and has certainly earned the right to be treated like one? -- Proud Military Spouse

DEAR SPOUSE: It is difficult to change ingrained behavior without the cooperation of all the people involved. Your husband apparently has determined that the best way to handle his parents is to leave things as they are. That is his choice. While we appreciate your desire to be supportive and protective, you might also be adding to his stress because your reaction is one of anger and embarrassment.

Ask your husband whether he wants you to talk to his parents. If he says no, we urge you to separate their behavior from your husband's reputation. His patient tolerance of their inappropriateness says many positive things about the strength of his character.


DEAR ANNIE:My nephew, "Joe Smith," has a Ph.D. He is marrying "Jane Doe," who will soon have her M.D.

What is the proper form of address for her? Would she be Dr. Jane Doe-Smith or Ms. Jane Doe-Smith or something else? When I address an envelope to both of them, do I write Dr. and Dr. Joe Smith or Dr. and Mrs. Joe Smith or The Doctors Joe and Jane Smith? It is difficult to be politically correct these days. -- S.

DEAR S.:It's complicated, but not impossible. When introducing either of them, always use "Dr." If you are using titles when addressing an envelope, it would depend on whether it is formal ("Dr. Jane Smith and Dr. Joe Smith") or informal ("The Doctors Smith"), and whether she is retaining her maiden name ("Dr. Jane Doe" and "Dr. Joe Smith" on separate lines). If she is hyphenating her name, find out whether she prefers "Dr. Jane Doe-Smith" or "Dr. Jane Smith-Doe" and use that. When in doubt, ask what the preference is.

DEAR ANNIE:I could identify with the letter from "California," who found out after 40 years of marriage that her husband had been cheating on her with prostitutes for the past two decades. She was unsure of what to do next.

I, too, had a husband who cheated on me for 20 years. His conquests were also often prostitutes. After 35 years of marriage and five kids, I gathered up all of my courage and filed for divorce. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done.

Fast-forward four years. I am a gainfully employed, personally fulfilled and happy community volunteer who is dating a sweet, kind 65-year-old widower. This man loves, cherishes and respects me in ways I never thought possible. I feel like a queen!

I may live three more years or 30, but I will never regret making the change I did. Remember that no one can go back and make a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. -- Heart Full of Joy in Pennsylvania

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