Wife says Sam’s mom monopolizes time

Dear Annie: I have been married to “Sam” for 25 years, and we have three beautiful daughters. Sam works three hours away. When he comes home, I make sure to have supper on the table, laundry completed, house spotless, grass mowed and any repairs fixed.

The problem is my mother-in-law. When Sam comes home, she calls and complains that she has to do everything by herself, and he always goes to help her. She says, “He was my son before he was your husband. He should be here for me.” If I protest about her monopolizing his time, she tells Sam that I said awful things to her.

Sam has three brothers within walking distance who do very little for her. I have never felt a part of my husband’s family. My mother-in-law never calls to see how we are, and when I call her, she is never home. She is either out with her other sons or visiting one of her siblings.

My mother-in-law is younger and in better health than my parents, yet my folks manage to attend every event for every one of their grandchildren. My mother-in-law only goes to functions for her other grandchildren, not ours. How can I get over this jealousy and enjoy the little time I have with my husband? Not All in the Family

Dear Not: Your husband is the one who decides how much time he devotes to his mother, so say nothing about Mom. Instead, explain how much all of you miss him and ask for more time together as a family. Most likely, he sees how efficient you are and doesn’t realize how much you need him. He also seems to have an automatic guilt response to his mother. If there is any way you can overcome your resentment and make friends with the woman, everyone will come out ahead.

Dear Annie: My husband likes to discreetly touch my breasts in public. Tonight, as we paid for our meal at a cafe, he rubbed my breast with his elbow. I shot him a disgusted look and he grinned.

When we got in the car, I told him his behavior is disrespectful and makes me uncomfortable. He says I am overreacting. How do I stop this? Kansas Bride

Dear Kansas: Your husband is a case of arrested development. Touching you intimately is his way of saying you belong to him, and he gets a kick out of your embarrassed reaction. He should outgrow it in time, but meanwhile, ignoring it completely is the best way to put a damper on his juvenile hi-jinks.

Dear Annie: This is in response to “Grieving Dad,” whose wife’s grief was getting tiresome to her sisters. My husband and two young sons were lost in an accident 15 years ago. I know everyone was tired of my grief. It is a heavy burden and never goes away.

What helped was a variety of grief solutions. The Compassionate Friends was wonderful, but I needed more, so I added a weekly grief group (Bereavement Outreach) that featured speakers who educated us. I also attended a local group for Parents Accepting Loss (PALs). My church offered an intermittent grief group, as well, and I had a fabulous grief counselor. The point is to keep going, talking and crying, especially around people who have been there and are safe. It is a horrific and exhausting process.

Please let “Grieving Dad” know that time plus resources to augment his wife’s sisters will help. Our society is not comfortable with grief, and to this day, it is rare that I share my extreme life event with anyone. Sadly, Been There

Dear Been: Many readers chastised us for not berating the sisters. We understand the impulse, but doing so would not have changed their unsupportive behavior. It is more important for Grieving Dad and his wife to find whatever helpful resources they need, as you have so astutely pointed out, and we thank you.

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