Annie's Mailbox: Mother-in-law is too dependent

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Dear Annie: My husband and I retired several years ago and built a house in the country. He told me that one day, he might have to let his widowed mother live with us. I had no problem with that until she actually moved in. For the past three years, this woman has played on my husband's feelings. She won't make any new friends and expects him to stay in the house 24/7 with her because she is afraid to leave the premises. Our friends stopped asking us to go out with them, and they no longer come to the house.

On top of that, my mother-in-law doesn't pick up after herself and throws her things all over. She henpecks my husband to no end, reminding him to put a coat on, take his medicine, turn the dishwasher on, etc. Mom promised that when she moved in, nothing would change and we could still have our own life. What a laugh. She gives him a guilt trip day in and day out. We always got along, but now I resent her enormously. Out of respect for my husband, I haven't said anything, but it's reached the boiling point.

My husband has a retired sister in another state, but she has yet to invite her mother for a visit. In fact, she hasn't even visited her in our house. She e-mails us frequently about their fun weekends. I want my life back. Any gentle advice?

- Ready To Move Out

Dear Ready: You and your husband need to discuss this privately so he knows how unhappy you are and that he's not helping his mother by allowing her to become so dependent on him, cooped up and isolated all day. Enlist his sister's help by having her take Mom a couple of times a year so you can get a break. If she refuses, ask her to contribute to the cost of hiring a companion once a week. Also look into area senior programs where Mom can meet others and get out of the house. Many provide transportation. Please work on this before the resentment becomes too much to handle.

Dear Annie: I am 16 and have an eating disorder. I'm not dangerously thin yet, but I am afraid that when I go to college, I could take it too far.

I don't know who to talk to about this. Neither of my parents would understand. Are there any Web sites I could contact and find someone to talk to?

- Confused

Dear Confused: You are smart to recognize you have a problem and that you understand that going away to college could exacerbate whatever issues are behind your eating disorder. Here are some reliable organizations that can help you: the National Eating Disorders Association (http://nationaleatingdisorders.org) at 1-800-931-2237; the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (http://anad.org) and the National Women's Health Information Center at 1-800-994-9662.

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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