Annie's Mailbox: Husband's mother doesn't respect him

Dear Annie: I have been married to my true love for 16 years. "Daniel" is a wonderful husband, a fantastic father to our three boys, a generous and successful businessman with many friends, and a great guy. My problem is his mother. She cannot see what a wonderful person her son is.

For years, I have listened to her verbally abuse him. In her opinion, he does nothing right. About 12 years ago, his now-deceased father had a minor stroke and turned the family business over to Daniel. It was quite stressful since he had to learn everything and then pay his father to buy him out. Daniel also paid his sisters an early "inheritance" for their share of the business. He has since more than doubled the size of the company.

However, his mother never ceases to tell him he's lazy and doesn't work hard enough. His sisters never defend him and are quick to criticize, as well. They don't appreciate that Daniel's sense of responsibility has enabled their current lifestyles. Daniel tries to be a loving son, and we do lots of family things together. He helps his mother whenever she calls, yet she constantly bad-mouths him to everyone. She actually told one employee that he is a terrible son and nothing like his father. This hurt him tremendously, and now he's thinking of quitting the business.

It makes me sad to the point of tears that a mother cannot respect, love and be proud of her son. How do I convince her that he is a good person and she is throwing away the relationship?

- Heartbroken for Hubby

Dear Heartbroken: This dynamic probably has been set in concrete since Daniel was a child and isn't likely to change unless someone establishes new rules. Daniel needs to assert himself and refuse to be treated so poorly. It might help to discuss this with a third party - perhaps a counselor or clergyperson who can work with the entire family. Otherwise, let Daniel handle this as he chooses. Your job is to be supportive, which you already are. We hope Daniel appreciates you.

Dear Annie: I was glad to hear your response to "Shocked in Missouri," who destroyed correspondence from her in-laws because she said it contained information she didn't think her husband should know. I, too, had a shock when I went through my mother's possessions. She had given me the wrong year, date and time of her wedding. It was two years earlier than I thought. I spoke at my father's funeral and said they were only married 21 years when he died at 55 and, in hindsight, feel like a fool. It makes me question what else they left out.

I always will wonder and feel hurt that they never told me the truth, but I can deal with it. Apparently, "Shocked" doesn't believe her husband is adult enough to cope, and in any case, it was not her decision to make.

- Glad I Know

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