Dear Annie: My husband and I own a business together that would collapse if we divorced. The business is starting to prosper after several years of debt and difficulties. At this point, we cannot afford to rock the boat, as we surely would not survive financially. We also have two teenagers at home, and the eldest has proved to be challenging.

Six years ago, I made plans to leave my husband, but financial catastrophe hit. I decided then to postpone the divorce and made up my mind to wait until our kids are out of the house. But it isn’t working. I pretend everything is OK and hope that if I act the part, the rest will follow suit, but the emptiness is always there. I am constantly daydreaming, living in my head and waiting for the day I get out.

It is another three years until the youngest goes to college. It seems like a life sentence. What should I do? — Trapped

Dear Trapped: Have you attempted counseling? If not, please try it before spending three years being miserable. When kids believe they live in a stable, loving home, it is usually better for them, so we understand and admire your decision to stay. But it is not going to be easy.

You can make things more tolerable for yourself by getting involved in activities that will get you out of the house more often, occupying your time and allowing you to focus on more pleasant things. And since you do not know what the condition of your business will be in three years, please see a lawyer about maintaining an amicable professional relationship if you separate from your husband. It can be done.

Dear Annie: My granddaughter insists that the first three numbers of one’s Social Security number represent the state in which you were born.

I say that prior to 1972, those first three numbers (the area numbers) were assigned based on the state in which a person first applied for a Social Security card. Who is right? — Golden Oldie Grandma

Dear Grandma: You are. According to the Social Security Administration, prior to 1972, cards were issued locally and the area number represented the state in which the card was issued, whether or not the applicant lived there. Since 1972, cards have been issued centrally from Baltimore and the area number is based on the zip code of the mailing address provided on the application. Again, the mailing address doesn’t have to match the place of residence. Where you were born has no direct bearing on those first three numbers. (Thanks for an interesting question.)

Dear Annie: This is for “Tired of Walking on Eggshells,” the woman who thinks it is rude that her daughter-in-law speaks only Russian to her parents.

I have been married for 35 years to a man from another country, and whose language I know little of. My mother-in-law and my husband’s sisters speak with one another in their own language.

I had determined from the beginning that I was not going to be paranoid about what they were discussing. One time, they apologized for carrying on in their language when I couldn’t follow. I replied that it was natural for them to speak to each other in their native tongue. My mother and I do the same thing.

I took no offense. The main thing was how I was treated — and I was always treated well. — J.D. in St. Louis (and Sometimes India)

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