Annie's Mailbox: After 25 years, mother-in-law still rude

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Dear Annie: My husband, “Kevin,” and I have been together 25 years. Our relationship is as wonderful today as on our first date. My mother-in-law, however, hates me. She says I wrecked her only son’s life because I can’t have children. This same woman called her son two days before our wedding and told him to “choose.” Kevin told her, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life with the woman I love. I have nothing more to say to you.” And he hung up.

Now, all these years later, she still treats me like some stranger passing her on the street. When she calls, my husband goes into another room to talk to her, like everything has to be a big secret. Once, I answered his phone, and as soon as I said, “Hello,” she said, “Where is my son?”

What do I do? This affects my husband, I’m sure. We moved across the country to get away from the drama, but it comes back every time she calls.

­— Troubled

Dear Troubled: Mom continues to behave rudely because she gets away with it. Although your husband is supportive, he takes the path of least resistance when it comes to his mother. With some hard work, you could change this dynamic. Call her often just to chat. Ask about her activities, her friends, her family members. Be solicitous and cheery for 10 minutes, and then say how nice it was to talk to her and goodbye. Do it again within the week. If you keep at it, regardless of her response, she will get used to talking to you and may even look forward to your calls. Otherwise, be grateful you live so far away.

Dear Annie: I have a good friend who constantly corrects everyone for mispronouncing words or using them incorrectly. Her grammatical oversight sometimes causes embarrassment to the person she is correcting, as she does this out loud and in front of whoever is around.

My friend may feel she is doing her part to rid the world of improper grammar, but it really hurts to be constantly judged. It makes us hesitant to speak freely for fear of reprimand. Should we say anything?

— Timid in Connecticut

Dear Timid: By all means, speak up. It is rude to correct the grammar of anyone who is not your child or your student. Take your friend aside and nicely explain that correcting an adult, especially in public, is condescending. Tell her it makes her friends reluctant to have a conversation with her, and because you know it is not her intent to insult people, you are certain she will make an effort to stop.

Dear Annie: I am a 50ish, single (by choice) woman and am sick to death of the whiny wives who can’t fathom why their husbands stray. Here are a few suggestions for them to make sure he isn’t looking elsewhere:

  1. Tell him out loud every day that you love him.

  2. Respect him and his opinions — he is not always wrong. Be his partner, not his adversary.

  3. If you’re lucky enough to be a stay-at-home wife, clean the house once in a while.

  4. Get a sitter and go out on a “date” with him at least once a month.

  5. Do something special for him. Fix him his favorite meal.

When you’re out shopping for yourself or the kids, buy him a little gift.

  1. Update your hairstyle, lose those 10 pounds and stop wearing sweats and old T-shirts. If you don’t care about your appearance, he certainly won’t, either.

  2. On your list of priorities, he should be No. 1, before your children, your parents, your career, etc. If he’s not the most important person in your life, your marriage can’t be very important to you. Your kids will grow up and move away, and then what?

If you’ve tried all these things and still feel your marriage is not working, run to the nearest qualified marriage counselor — together, if possible.

— Thought You’d

Like to Know

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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