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12:15 AM Wed, Sept. 26th

Dear Annie: Say what?

Dear Annie: Frustration is interrupting my sleep, upsetting my stomach and leaving me on the edge of tears or screaming. My husband of many years has had a hearing problem for years, but he won’t do anything about it. I have tried all manner of things to get him to go to an audiologist for assessment, including telling him I’ll go, too (even though I have excellent hearing!). I try to make him understand how much he’s missing every day, to no avail. I’ve realized that I can be verbally nasty when he doesn’t hear or hears incorrectly — which often starts an argument. I’ve been to a counselor to try to get some coping skills, as this is really affecting our overall relationship, but trying her suggestions is getting me nowhere. He just digs his heels in deeper. I feel that if he really loved me, he’d at least get an evaluation to stop this downward swing in our relationship. I don’t like how this is all making me feel. It’s getting hard to pretend I’m happy in front of friends. Any suggestions? — Sad and Frustrated Beyond Words

Dear Sad and Frustrated Beyond Words: The good and bad news is that you are already taking all the right steps. Try to get out of the mindset that if he really loved you, he’d get a hearing evaluation. Though this obviously impacts you, it isn’t about you. It’s about your husband’s own hang-ups with accepting and admitting he has hearing loss. Continue with therapy, and consider trying meditation. Until he’s open to seeing a doctor, focus on your mental health. Sometimes it’s only after we stop trying to get loved ones help that they decide they want it for themselves.

Dear Annie: My brother and his wife tell everyone, friends and family, that they are always welcome in their home — to just stop by anytime. They make a big show of saying this repeatedly. However, they never actually invite anyone over for holidays, meals or just a simple visit. For example, we live in a different state, and when we visit other relatives in the area, they never invite us to their home. I assume they expect us to just “show up.”

I personally hate it when people show up unannounced at my house. I could still be in my pajamas or eating a meal, or maybe I haven’t finished the cleaning the kitchen yet. I was taught that it is rude to just show up at someone’s house. Could you please clarify? — Mystified in Montana

Dear Mystified: Usually when people say to “visit anytime,” they don’t actually mean “pop by with no warning whenever.” They just mean “call and plan a visit for any time.” So pick up the phone and plan a visit -- and while you’re there, you might ask your brother to be more specific about making plans in the future.

Dear Annie: I am wondering what to say to relatives who ask to come over after Christmas, get out what they call their leftovers and heat them up, leaving us with none. We think that coming over to visit is fine but that being presumptuous and helping themselves to our food is so rude. What do you think? — Nothing Left

Dear Nothing Left: From the sound of it, you host Christmas dinner at your house and have relatives bring dishes. If that’s the case, I can understand why they’d say “our leftovers.” Everyone contributed, so everyone wants to keep riding the gravy train, so to speak. If you want to keep some leftovers, store some portions in a separate container and stick it out of sight in the freezer.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.