Friday, November 10, 2006
Dear Annie: I desperately need advice concerning my husband of 10 years. "Stu" is 50 years old, and I am his fourth wife. (I know -- that should have been a clue.) The major problem is the "apron strings" have never been cut. I didn't just marry my husband. Apparently, I married my mother-in-law.
Stu receives money and gifts from his mother and does not share. He talks about me to her, negative things and outright lies. In her eyes, I can do nothing right, and she holds grudges for things I didn't know I was supposed to be doing.
I've talked to Stu about this, but nothing changes. I have lost respect for him and am at the point of pretending I don't have a mother-in-law at all. How do I deal with this? Second Marriage in Texas
Dear Texas: Stu's relationship with his mother seems normal to him, and he doesn't understand that it is wrong for him to put Mom before you. His mother, of course, encourages this attachment, not realizing or caring that she is limiting her son's independence and maturity and damaging his ability to sustain loving relationships. She is being selfish, jealous and possessive.
You can kill her with kindness, telling her how wonderful she is, asking what you can do for her, seeing her often, calling daily. This might soften her up enough that you are no longer a major threat. You also can totally avoid her, but since Stu will not back you up, this will hurt your marriage. Or you can ask Stu to go with you for counseling, saying you need his help to work on some issues, and hope the counselor will make Stu understand how Mama is undermining his marriage.
Dear Annie: My good friend, "Larry," had an affair, divorced his wife and is now with the Other Woman. I'll call her "Barbara."
Out of loyalty to his mother, and his own anger, Larry's son refuses to meet Barbara. "Alex" is 17, and I feel he has the right to decide not to meet the person who interfered in his parents' marriage. Larry and Barbara say Alex needs to "get over it and move on." Larry says Barbara is "his choice," and therefore, Alex needs to accept her. I disagree. How can I make him understand? Darla
Dear Darla: You cannot force someone to "get over it" or accept a person who has hurt his mother and destroyed his home life. This takes time. Pushing Barbara on Alex will only make him resent her more, and some of that resentment will carry over to his feelings for Dad, who is being an insensitive clod.
If Dad has any sense, he will tell Alex that Barbara would like to meet him, and to let them know when he's ready. Dad should stay involved in Alex's life, without Barbara, allowing his son the time to forgive his father and be able to meet his new partner with a more open heart.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Not Thin Enough in Texas," whose fianc & eacute; was fixated on her weight. You told her to run from him.
I wish I had asked for advice when I met my ex-weight-watcher six years ago. Instead, I married him. I thought his fixation would go away after the wedding, but it got worse. I had to get on the scale every day so he could check my weight. He would buy clothes for me just to make sure I stayed the same size. He belittled me constantly and daily asked if I went to the gym. It was abusive.
By the way, I was, and still am, a size 6. "Not Thin Enough" should run and never look back. I had plenty of red flags and I ignored them. Southern Indiana
Dear Indiana: Thanks for "weighing in." We're sorry you had to learn your lesson the hard way, but we appreciate your writing to warn others.
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