Dear Ann Cannon • I have been widowed for four years, but I continue to wear my wedding bands. I’ve been criticized and told that it’s inappropriate to wear wedding rings when widowed, but I think it shows respect for my very long marriage. Furthermore, I’m a wealthy, feisty 87-year-old woman and want to discourage men from trying to date me. Your thoughts?
Dear Unsinkable • You asked for my thoughts, so here they are. First, congratulations on being feisty at the age of 87! Stay feisty, my friend. And second, who says it’s inappropriate for you to still wear your wedding bands? What you do or don’t do with your wedding bands is nobody’s beeswax but your own. Tell ’em I said so, because I AM TEAM YOU ALL THE WAY.
Thanks for writing and best wishes always!
Dear Ann Cannon • I am embarrassed that I feel the way I do — and even more embarrassed that I am reaching out to you for advice. But here goes. I am one of four adult siblings in our family. Our parents, who are in their 60s, are both alive and well. My “problem” is that I’m not a problem to them. Unlike some of my siblings — one of my sisters, in particular — I’m healthy, physically and emotionally. I’m happily married with a baby on the way. I make a good living. I know my parents love me, but it feels like most of their energy goes toward their needy children (as it probably should — I do get that). Still, I sometimes feel overlooked and under-appreciated. Any suggestions for dealing with this situation?
Dear Brother • Don’t feel embarrassed. Your feelings are normal and completely understandable. Furthermore, your experience is so universal it even shows up in the Bible. In some ways, you are the older brother of the prodigal son, right?
So, what should you do? I don’t think it would hurt, frankly, to have a loving, non-accusatory conversation with your parents. Tell them the truth — that sometimes you feel overlooked. Because you are so self-reliant, they may assume that you don’t need or desire anything from them. Let them know specifically what they can do to make you feel like you’re on their radar.
I actually had a similar experience with one of our sons. In the end, he reached out to me and said he would appreciate it if I called him (instead of vice versa) now and then. I appreciated that he didn’t let his feelings of frustration with me fester. I’m still not very good about calling him. But I’m better than I used to be, and he appreciates my efforts.
And now a word (or two!) from our readers …
Dear Ann Cannon • I’m responding to your request for suggestions for the frustrated employee. They mostly don’t teach you in school how to work or what it’s like to work, so if you want to learn you have to teach yourself. I suggest the Harvard Negotiation Project, which includes “Thank You for the Feedback.” I also suggest looking at the work of Bob Sutton, which includes “Good Boss, Bad Boss.”
Dear Ann Cannon • When I used to feel that my husband took the things I did for him for granted, I would effusively praise myself in front of him. For example: “Thank you, Mary, for preparing a nice meal for us after being on your feet all day,” or “Thank you, Mary, for always making sure we have clean clothes to wear.” You get the idea. At first, he looked at me like I was a bit off, but he soon got the idea.