When will you stop beating your husband?
Dear Annie: This concerns unwanted reactions by others to my husband’s and my medical problems.
My husband has balance and coordination problems, for which we have been seeking answers for years. He sometimes stumbles or falls. I have experienced a degeneration in tendons of both hands and have been through surgery seven times. I’m wearing a cast as I write. Each prior surgery corrected a specific problem, but I have no answer for why my tendons keep breaking down with normal use of my hands. Three siblings of mine and some cousins also have had surgery for hand problems similar to mine.
Two questions for you: How can I relieve the distress of those who show sincere concern for our medical problems? And how can I kindly discourage the “blame the victim” mentality behind ignorant questions by those who doubt us and jump to wrong conclusions? Unfortunately, people who see my husband fall or see me in a hand brace feel very free about telling me, for example, to stop hitting my husband.
The idea is so ludicrous that I almost always laugh. My husband and I don’t fight physically. If we disagree, we take time to cool off. Then we forgive each other and reason through our conflict. We have been married for 45 years and still consider ourselves to be best friends. — K.F.
Dear K.F.: Relieve the distress of those who show sincere concern by assuring them you have gotten great medical care and have sought second and third opinions (which I hope you have). As for the folks who say you should stop hitting your husband, you can say, “I don’t, and spousal abuse is not a matter to treat so flippantly.” Some people are always going to take flying leaps toward conclusions because it’s their only mental recreation. Try not to let it get to you. You have your best friend by your side, and that’s what really counts.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Drive Safely,” which was about a movement to tap your horn when you see someone texting. I am highly sensitive to external stimuli, and in my world, a horn means something else. It’s a warning, not a mechanism to pressure someone into other behavior. Given the number of idiots texting while driving, I would find this kind of horn honking extremely distracting. It would take my mind off my driving and cause me to look for the source of and reason for the beep. It’s a reflex from almost 50 years of driving.
All states need to ban the use of cellphones while driving, period. Then police need to enforce the law. In Massachusetts, only texting is banned. It’s hard to enforce. If all cellphone use were banned (except for hands-free), it would be easy to enforce the law. And I don’t know what’s taking so long. — No Cellphone for Me
Dear No Cellphone: You make a great point about how honking at a texting driver could startle other motorists. I agree that many states could use stronger laws regulating phone use and distracted driving. At this writing, only 16 states (along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam) prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving. And research has shown that even talking on a cellphone hands-free causes mental distraction. The safest option is forgoing all phone usage while operating a vehicle.
Annie Lane’s debut book — Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie — is available as a paperback and e-book. See the website http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.