KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR | Annie's Mailbox Answer to daughter-in-law disgusted readers

Dear Annie: What were you thinking? I'm referring to "Disgusted Daughter-in-Law in Michigan," whose mother-in-law expected her to take care of the business, the house and the 95-year-old grandmother without notice or thanks -- on top of choosing wedding pictures that excluded the daughter-in-law.
Do you expect this new bride to lie down on the floor so that her witch of a mother-in-law can walk all over her? And where is her wimp of a husband who goes along with all the disrespect? If she follows your advice, she'll be subservient to this monster for the rest of her life. J. in Pennsylvania
Dear J.: We were pounded on this one and admit our advice could have been better. We apparently had a double brain cramp. We focused on the photographs and not the whole situation. Instead, we should have told the daughter-in-law to set some boundaries and ask her husband to back her up. Nonetheless, we were surprised at the amount of venom directed at mothers-in-law. Read on for the more printable ones:
From Boston: This woman is pouring her heart out about a nasty, rude and jealous woman who is making her life miserable, and your reply is that you can catch more flies with honey? She should tell Mom that if she wants any relationship with her son, she is to treat them both with decency. A person can take the high road for just so long, and then it's time to get into the ditch and sling some mud.
Texas: I have been married 15 years, and for the first 10, I tried to keep the peace with my mother-in-law. Finally, I had enough and told her she'd better start treating me like part of the family. I wish I'd had the nerve to do it sooner. It would have saved me 10 years of heartache.
Wisconsin: Part of the problem could be related to the mother-in-law's stress from being the caregiver to her 95-year-old mother. Does "Disgusted's" husband offer to help out? Did he do more before getting married? Do the other siblings help in any way, perhaps financially? If they do, perhaps that is why Mom favors them.
Fargo, N.D.: Wrong, wrong, wrong! With a 95-year-old grandmother in the picture, this old witch has longevity on her side. The next time Mama orders her around, she should be told to go directly to hell, where all evil people belong.
California: She should tell her mother-in-law how hurt she is by selecting photos that don't include her and ask Mom to apologize.
Salem, Ore.: After numerous vicious lies were spread around the family and the community, and even an attempt to disrupt my marriage, I simply removed my battleaxe-in-law from my life. Now my stomach doesn't churn, and I don't fight with my husband about her. And I no longer blame him for having no backbone.
Seoul, South Korea: She has every reason to be upset for being used and abused by that terrible woman. Her husband should give his mother the comeuppance she deserves.
Memphis: I could have written that letter 28 years ago. And when the kids come along, it will be worse. If the mother refuses to be nice, they should cut the apron strings and move on. Things changed for us when my M-I-L finally died.
Virginia: Your usual good advice really flopped. Isn't it possible the mother-in-law, clearly a dishonorable person, shows so little respect for them because she realizes that they'll buckle under, no matter what outrages she pulls? It is perfectly proper to decline the constant and unreasonable demands of relatives.
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