Dear Ann Cannon • What do you do when your spouse bows out of your congregation and you start going to church by yourself?
— All Alone in the (Church) End Zone
Dear All Alone • More and more Americans (I’m assuming you’re an American) are “emptying the pews” these days. That reality probably doesn’t make you feel better about your own situation, but it might make you feel less alone. Regardless, this kind of transition can be hard on a marriage — especially if sharing a church life with your spouse has been important to both of you in the past.
So, what can you do? As hard as it may be, you should be respectful of your spouse’s choice ... and ask that your spouse return the favor where you’re concerned. Meanwhile, focus on the things you and your spouse still have in common and make spending time together pursuing mutual interests a genuine priority.
If you continue to attend church (and you definitely should if it’s important to you), seek out friends to worship with so you’ll feel less isolated.
Dear Ann Cannon • What do you do when your Visiting Teacher drops off presents, but never stops to talk?
— I Know I Should Be More Grateful
Dear I Know • OK. A little explanation may be in order here for some of our readers. In LDS World, ward members are assigned specific individuals to visit and to watch over. These members used to be called “visiting teachers” and “home teachers,” but now they’re called “ministers.” Typically, ministers will pay in-home visits to the people for whom they’re responsible — which brings us to your question.
Instead of visiting, your minister opts for drive-bys, which frustrates you. Have you told her you’d appreciate an actual visit instead of a gift? If you haven’t, then you should. If and when she does visit you, however, be mindful of her time and respectful of her boundaries. She probably has a tight schedule, which may be one of the reasons why you don’t see much of her. I hope this helps!
Dear Ann Cannon • What do you say when you see younger family members taking paths that will lead to certain unhappiness, harm to themselves and to other family members?
— Don’t Go There
Dear Don’t Go There • Hmmmm. I’m not sure, frankly. I think it depends on which family members you’re talking about. If you’re referring to extended family with whom you don’t have a close relationship, I don’t think you’re entitled to say much. If, on the other hand, you’re referring to members of your immediate family, things are different.
With young children you should absolutely talk to them about your concerns and then set rules that will help keep them safe. The same goes for teenagers, although chances are good they’ll challenge you and your rules.
But adult children are a different story. You can certainly express your concerns, but be aware that if you do so repeatedly, they’ll stay away. Nagging won’t help change their behavior. And the truth is that they have the privilege to live their own lives and makes their own mistakes — just like you did. It’s their journey.
Dear Ann Cannon • I retired a little over a year ago. I thought I would have more free time to write and sew and garden. Instead, my family has ceased to help with any housework at all and it seems like all I do is laundry, dishes and mopping. Nagging isn’t working. Any ideas?
— Resentful Retiree
Dear Resentful • Ugh. I’m sorry. I’ve known people in your position who’ve gone back to work or turned in their papers for a Mormon mission just so they can escape the demands of their adult children. In case neither of those options appeals to you, try leaving household chores undone until things get so bad your family has no choice but to stand and deliver.
Will this strategy work? I’m not sure. But it may be worth a try.