Dear Annie: My husband is a wonderful man in almost every respect. But when we are in the car together, he uses road rage to manipulate me into agreeing to things I don’t want. He’ll drive threateningly if I don’t say it’s OK for him to take that fishing trip or go to a movie. When he is the driver, he controls everyone because we are dependent on him.
I have pointed this out to him, but it always ends in a terrible fight. Worse, he punishes me by saying, “I will never take that trip again,” or “I won’t go to that movie with you.” He accuses me of provoking him.
My husband’s nephew was the target of the same abuse when we traveled together recently. The boy was behaving like an angel, when suddenly my husband became enraged and demanded all sorts of concessions from his nephew.
For the longest time, I didn’t realize what was going on. I thought he just couldn’t handle driving. What I didn’t understand is that he uses road rage as a form of bullying and abuse. I don’t know how I was so blind for so many years. It is the perfect tool to get away with whatever he wants. It also is a form of torture, because he makes us feel responsible should he have an accident.
I don’t know whether we will ever go on another trip together or even to a movie, but I am willing to go by myself or with a friend — and my husband knows it. I have no idea where our marriage is headed after 24 years, but I am preparing myself to do whatever it takes. I don’t believe he would go for counseling, but I refuse to let him drive me anywhere ever again. — Virginia Wife
Dear Virginia: You are wise not to get into a car with this maniac. Since your husband is “wonderful” when he isn’t driving, however, please reconsider counseling. You don’t know how he will respond until you ask and make it clear how unhappy you are about such manipulative, controlling behavior. (But go in separate cars.)
Dear Annie: Members of my family love to extend invitations to birthday parties at a restaurant of their choice, and they expect you to bring a gift and pay for your own meal.
It is my understanding that the host handles the food bill in expectation that the guests will bring gifts and have a great time. This is the way I have known it to be done. Now that I live in the South, social etiquette among my family members has become strained and has caused me to decline invitations. — Confused in N.C.
Dear Confused: The hosts should pay for the food. Unfortunately, many folks don’t realize this or don’t care. In your case, however, you already know that your relatives expect you to foot your own bill, so consider these invitations “pot luck” and accept or decline according to your preference.
Dear Annie: I’m sorry it has taken me this long to reply to “Clueless on Cancer Etiquette.” It is refreshing to hear from someone who cares enough not to ask the wrong questions.
I’m an 87-year-old WW II veteran with stage 4 cancer. I’d suggest “Clueless” be friendly, caring and cheerful, and not ask about their illness. Let them open the conversation about cancer if they want to discuss it. We want our friends to behave the same as always so we can enjoy each other’s company.
When my wife was sick with cancer, her so-called “friends” stayed away as if she were contagious. Only one made any attempt to cheer her up by having breakfast with her every day. That was the only food my wife would eat, as she was otherwise too depressed. Thank you, “Clueless,” for your thoughtfulness. — Mike
“Annie’s Mailbox” is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. To find out more about Classic Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.