AnnLanders.com - Dear Ann Landers: I want to respond to your column on cross-dressing.
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Section: depression, sexuality, gender, marriage
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I want to respond to your column on cross-dressing. My dear husband of many years passed away suddenly. We had a good marriage, and I loved him with all my heart. After he died, I cleaned out his workshop, which was piled to the ceiling with projects he hadn't finished and stuff he had accumulated over the years. I seldom went in there unless I needed a hammer or screwdriver. While cleaning, I found evidence that my devoted, loving husband was a secret transvestite. There were dozens of boxes of women's clothing, underwear, shoes and wigs, and magazines about cross-dressing in the closet and on the shelves. Apparently, he had been engaging in this activity for a very long time. Our sex life was good, and I thought our marriage was solid, but now, I'm depressed and upset because I feel I was married to a man I didn't really know. It also makes me wonder if he had any gay friends and if he went beyond just dressing up. All the precious memories I had of my husband have been besmirched. I cannot talk to anyone about this because he was prominent in our community, and I don't want to tarnish his good name. I am just thankful our son and daughter didn't insist on helping me clean out their father's things. I refuse to let anyone give me a hand with his closets and bureau drawers because I would rather die than have it known he had this weird side to him. Please, Ann, warn your readers who have secrets like my husband to come clean with their families or make sure they don't leave any evidence behind. I am -- Devastated in Texas

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Section: aging, family, health-and-wellness
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
In a recent case, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that parents alone make the decision whether or not grandparents may see their grandchildren. I am a pastor and counselor in Florida. For years, I have been privy to the horror stories of seniors whose grandchildren are used as bargaining chips in an effort to control wealth and influence relationships. Since nothing is more precious to seniors than their grandchildren, the threat goes like this: "If you don't agree to do this or that, you will never see your grandchildren again." If the grandparents don't cave in, the result is often total abandonment. Florida is filled with happy retirees with good relationships, but there are also hundreds of seniors, who are forgotten and warehoused in nursing homes or trailer parks. Their only connection to family members is the outdated pictures of grandkids whom they never get to know. This is a tragedy. Everybody loses. -- Dr. R.S., Ridge Manor, Fla.

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Section: abuse, relationships, dating
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Please print this list of warning signals to help women determine if a mate or date is a potential (or actual) batterer. Be careful if your mate displays any of the following signs: 1. Jealousy of your time with co-workers, friends and family. 2. Controlling behavior. (Controls your comings and goings and your money and insists on "helping" you make personal decisions.) 3. Isolation. (Cuts you off from supportive resources such as telephone pals and colleagues at work.) 4. Blames others for his problems. (Unemployment, family quarrels -- everything is "your fault.") 5. Hypersensitivity. (Easily upset by annoyances that are a part of daily life, such as being asked to work overtime, criticism of any kind, being asked to help with chores or child care.) 6. Cruelty to animals or children. (Insensitive to their pain and suffering, may tease and/or hurt children and pets.) 7. "Playful" use of force in sex. (May throw you down and hold you during sex. May start having sex with you when you are sleeping or demand sex when you are ill or tired.) 8. Verbal abuse. (Says cruel and hurtful things, degrades and humiliates you, wakes you up to verbally abuse you or doesn't let you go to sleep.) 9. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. (Sudden mood swings and unpredictable behavior -- one minute loving, the next minute angry and punitive.) 10. Past history of battering. (Has hit others but has a list of excuses for having been "pushed over the edge.") 11. Threats of violence. (Says, "I'll slap you," "I'll kill you," or "I'll break your neck.") 12. Breaking or striking objects. (Breaks your possessions, throws objects near or at you or your children.) 13. Uses force during an argument. (Holds you down or against a wall, pushes, shoves, slaps or kicks you. This behavior can easily escalate to choking, stabbing or shooting.) Ann, please tell your readers they don't have to accept violent behavior from anyone -- mates, dates, parents or friends. Because millions of American women will be battered at some time in their lives, they need to know how to read the warning signs. Any woman who sees herself in the column today should call the nearest women's crisis line and tell someone what is happening. She will be provided with support and safety options. There are several ways to break the cycle of violence, and identifying the warning signs is the first step. -- Portland, Ore.

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Section: relationships, family, gender, marriage, money
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
One day last weekend, my parents popped in just as my husband and I finished lunch. It was one of those rare occasions when my husband had offered to do the dishes. I was shocked when my mother asked, "Why is HE doing the dishes?" My mother has always been very traditional when it comes to women's roles, and her disapproving remark annoyed me. Wishing to avoid a confrontation, I simply did not respond. What I SHOULD have said was "Maybe because this is the '90s and I work, too." I could have added, "Maybe because I spackled and sanded and painted all the bedroom walls. Maybe because I ripped up the carpet on the stairs, pulled nails and repainted the stairway. Maybe because I go to his shop and do sanding for him while he builds kitchens for a living. Maybe because I helped him put a new floor in the upstairs bathroom. Maybe because I help him unload wood from his pickup truck. Maybe because I'm usually the one who hauls two large garbage cans filled with trash down the road to be collected. Maybe because I'm constantly picking up after him, cooking his meals and doing his laundry. Maybe because we do things for each other and I shouldn't be made to feel guilty if he does the dishes once in a while." I'd love to write more, Ann, but I've got to mop the kitchen floor and start preparing Sunday's dinner. HIS family is coming over. If my mother reads this, I've got another shocker for her. He cooks, too. And now, if I could only get him to sew. -- Doing It All in Binghamton, N.Y.

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Section: behavior, dating, marriage, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
"Smarter Now in Florida" wanted to know what kind of person looks for companionship through personal ads. I can tell her. They are the same "losers" who look for employment in the classifieds because they have exhausted all other possibilities and are pretty darned desperate. And how about us morons who look in the newspaper to find a used car, kitchen appliances and "like-new" TV sets? Heaven help us! Haven't we any other resources? Not all of us can go to an Ivy League college and meet Mr. or Ms. Right on campus. Nor do we all work in a profession that allows us a large circle of acquaintances with similar interests. Take night classes? Do volunteer work? Know what we'll find? Two hundred women in full war paint and one cowering male. For some of us, personal ads are the perfect solution. I met my wonderful husband when he responded to an ad I placed many years ago. Our son is now in college, and our marriage is the envy of our friends. Using personals to find a wealthy man who looks like a movie star is nonsense, but for the discerning, sane and sensible, the personals are the way to go. -- A.G. in Hollywood, Calif.

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Section: behavior, manners, marriage
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who put an unfair burden on a bride and groom by carrying wedding presents to the reception. The couple then must arrange for one or two empty cars to haul the gifts to the couple's new home. I believe this happens for two reasons: procrastination and laziness. Many guests wait until the last minute to buy a gift, and then they bring it to the wedding rather than having it delivered. Also, some guests don't want to be bothered with wrapping a gift for mailing. You would do thousands of wedding couples a huge favor if you would urge guests to purchase and deliver gifts before the big day. If they can't manage to get the gift in advance, it is perfectly OK to send it a few days after the wedding. I hope you agree with me, Ann. -- F.W. in Zionsville, Ind.

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Section: sexuality, relationships, marriage
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
My jaw dropped when I read the letter from the woman who had been married for 14 years to a man who had shown no interest in sex since the day they married. That letter could have been written by me. You told the woman she had a "clinker in her thinker" for staying with him. My comment is, "Well, maybe yes and maybe no." Where I come from, marriage means a lot more than just sex. I was taught that marriage is forever. Also, it defines one's social status, not to mention one's income bracket. For years, I thought I was doing something wrong. I tried to change. It didn't work. I then decided to end my sexless marriage, get a job and support myself. I divorced my husband two years ago. The cold shoulder I received in this small, conservative town was unbelievable. People here assume that if a man isn't beating his wife or running around, she has no legitimate reason to leave him. So, Ann, sometimes it's not the woman but the culture that has a "clinker in its thinker." -- Small Town in Kansas

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Section: manners, behavior, health-and-wellness
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I could not resist the opportunity to tell "Freaking Out in California" how right she is. Cellphone users have become downright rude. My husband, along with others throughout the country, happens to own a scanner that can pick up cellphone conversations. It truly amazes me that these yakkers are so free with their talk. It's like the old days when we had party lines and all the neighbors could listen in on your telephone calls. Anyone with a scanner can pick up these conversations. Much of what I hear is unfit for human ears. Warn your readers to please watch their language, Ann. -- Iowa Reader

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Section: relationships, children, mental-health, marriage, family
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I just learned that my ex-husband is the father of a baby boy with his new wife. I am devastated by this news. We have been divorced for 10 years, but I never stopped loving him. Eight months after I married "Andy," he had a vasectomy without telling me. We spent another year trying to have a baby. Actually, I was the only one who was trying. Andy was stringing me along. He knew he could not father a child, but he made me believe the fault was mine. I discovered the truth when I went to see a fertility specialist. The doctor said there was no physical reason I could not become pregnant and suggested that my husband be checked. It was then that Andy told me about the vasectomy. The following year, he divorced me on the grounds that he wasn't cut out for marriage. Later that year, he got married to someone else and apparently had his vasectomy reversed. Now I am faced with a terrible sense of loss. How in the world could this have happened? Andy's new family should have been OURS. I tried to adopt a child, but as a single woman, this is very difficult unless you have a great deal of money. I know I can't turn back the clock, but learning about Andy's baby has brought back all the hurt. How can I rid myself of this pain? -- Need Help in Tacoma, Wash.

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Section: manners, children, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I am writing on behalf of four families in our neighborhood. One of our neighbors has three unruly, screaming, screeching, constantly yelling children between the ages of 3 and 8. We can tell from the noise when they wake up in the morning, when they leave for school, when they come home and, thankfully, when they go to sleep. We have nothing against young children, Ann. Most of the kids in this area produce a normal amount of noise, and it doesn't bother us. We especially dread "pool time," which can last from one hour (bearable) to six hours (intolerable). Ann, these kids don't play. They yell and screech. During these "screamfests," it's impossible to read, watch TV, relax or converse. A nap is out of the question. When they bring friends over, it's so bad we have to leave our homes and go elsewhere. We have approached this neighbor and explained that the screaming is too much, but the man was not receptive to our plight and became extremely unpleasant. Our neighborhood used to be a paradise until this family moved in. We all try to be considerate of one another, all except for this neighbor. We have lived here for more than 20 years and don't want to move. What can we do? -- Frazzled in Florida

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"Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good."
-Ann Landers