Who needs friends like Jim and Mary?

Dear Annie: My wife and I are friends with "Jim and Mary," whom we see regularly, but only on a limited basis. They can be quite enjoyable, but we once tried vacationing with them, and after 24 hours, my wife and I were stressed from Jim's negative attitude and complaints, Mary's compulsive behavior and the inability of either to make the simplest of decisions. They say it was their best vacation ever, but my wife and I call it the Vacation From Hell.
Since then, Jim and Mary constantly question us about our travel plans and continually invite themselves to join us. We all are retirees, and my wife and I travel often. We have done everything from ignoring their comments to telling them how much we prefer to travel alone, all of which falls on deaf ears.
Jim and Mary complain that other people don't always treat them nicely, but we happen to know it is because they invite themselves to parties, trips, events, etc., taking the hosts by surprise. Jim and Mary think they have many friends because they are part of all these activities, but these friends are biting their tongues.
Mary never hesitates to ask personal questions or look through our mail, books, shopping bags or whatever. If our phone rings, she asks who's calling. If she sees a gift, she wants to know who sent it.
Jim and Mary are not senile, nor do they have a medical condition that would account for their rudeness. It's been going on for years. They can be very nice, but this behavior is exhausting and they never stop. What can we do without completely losing the friendship? Desperate To Travel Alone
Dear Desperate: We're wondering why you care about maintaining a friendship with rude, nosy people whom you don't want to be around for any length of time. What's the worst that could happen if you were honest? Tell them nicely, "Sorry, but we won't disclose our travel plans, since we prefer to travel alone." Say, "We really don't like it when you go through our mail. Please put it down." If they are offended and avoid you, it sounds like a pretty good deal to us.
Dear Annie: You have printed many columns about weddings. What catches my attention is the fact that the first thing couples do is pick a date and rent a hall for the reception. As a pastor, I see this quite often, but for some reason, couples fail to check with the church and pastor first. They then are indignant and sometimes downright angry when I'm not available because of another commitment.
I've also seen an increase in the number of people who are not connected to my congregation, yet expect to be married in my church. This causes problems, also.
Please tell your readers to take into consideration the clergy involved and make them part of the planning first -- not last. Midwest Pastor
Dear Pastor: Couples often assume their local church (and clergy) will be at their disposal and forget there is a real possibility of conflicting commitments. For those who plan to marry in church or who will have clergy officiating, please put them first on your checklist. Weddings are stressful enough.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Adoptee's Wife," whose husband died from inherited causes, but the parents still will not reveal what they know of his biological parents. Now "Wife" is worried about her children.
Please tell her that children of adoptees can often find information about the birth parents through the Vital Statistics department of the state in which the adopted person was born. I hope this is helpful. Edilma R. Him Osorio, Supervisor, Vital Records, Lincoln, Neb.
Dear Edilma Osorio: Thank you for reminding our readers of this resource. We hope "Wife" can at least get the state of birth from her in-laws so she can do further research.
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