Dear Annie: Jumping to conclusions

Annie Lane

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.” The fact is that 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.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions to