Originally Published: December 16, 2017 6:02 a.m.
Dear Annie: My wife and I have always enjoyed hosting events for our family over the years. This past July, for a second time, we hosted a cousins reunion, which brought approximately 40 guests to our home. Our home is not huge, so everyone had access to all parts of it. The children ran and played throughout our home, and the adults were happy to socialize inside and outside.
The reason I am writing is that approximately a month after this event, my wife was going to wear her mother’s wedding ring (a gold band with five large diamonds) to a social event, but she discovered it missing from her jewelry box. She had always kept this ring in a special place in her jewelry box, and it was her mother’s most prized possession.
Needless to say, it makes us sick to think that someone would have taken this ring, but we have no idea what else could have happened to it. We have asked our children and grandchildren whether they saw anyone looking through her jewelry box, but they said they saw no one. Nothing else in the jewelry box was disturbed. It is coming up on the holidays, and we usually send out a Christmas newsletter about the year’s events. My wife feels guilty because in her mind, this ring was entrusted to her for safekeeping and she failed her mother. We are at a loss as to what to do. Should we mention the ring in this letter or just let it go? — Feeling Betrayed
Dear Feeling Betrayed: Jump to conclusions and you’ll land in a mess. There are many explanations for why the ring has gone missing that don’t involve family betrayal. Maybe it was lost or stolen before the reunion; maybe one of the children decided to use it to propose to a crush. I see no harm in including a brief note about it in your family newsletter. The larger your search party the better your odds. But whatever happens, assure your wife it’s not her fault. Try to help her find other ways to honor her mother’s memory.
Dear Annie: Though your response to “Personality Problems” — who is frustrated her husband doesn’t seem to care as much about the grandkids — provided some good pointers, I feel that you missed something important.
Reread her letter and note how focused -- one might say obsessed -- the writer is about her grandchildren. Note that she seems very self-satisfied, probably because she is getting everything she wants, with the exception of having her husband want all those things, too.
While she’s observing that he never misses the grandkids when they are away traveling, he is probably observing that all she talks about while they’re away is how she wishes she were home so she could see the kids, pressuring him to end the trip earlier than he wants to.
And is it possible that the reason he has few hobbies or friends is that she does not approve of the things he wants to do or the people he wants to befriend?
What I saw when I read the letter were two people with very different ideas about what retirement should be like for them. I also perceived how controlling one of those people seems to be. Her husband might be more willing to be a good grandfather if he also had the opportunity to satisfy his own needs in retirement. — In Similar Shoes
Dear Similar Shoes: One thing I love about writing this column is that readers are happy to chime in with their own experiences to help fill a story out. Every letter tells one side of a story, but I know there are many other sides out there. You make a great point. Perhaps “Personality Problems” should look inward. Thanks for writing.