May 29, 2024
My mother-in-law's involvement with the church has made things awkward.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together for six years. Until about 18 months ago, my mother-in-law and I got along swimmingly. Unfortunately, that relationship has become troubled.

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The cause is her deep involvement with her church, indoctrinating our toddler with her religious beliefs and, finally, (ironically) her deep physical attraction to her priest. She believes this last topic is acceptable to confide to me. Needless to say, it has made me very uncomfortable, and I have begun avoiding her.

This is difficult because she and my father-in-law live in the downstairs apartment of our home.

My husband, thankfully, understands my position. We both have spoken to his mother several times, to no avail. I’ve reached the end of my rope, and I’m asking for any advice you may have as to how to handle this awkward situation.

— ROUGH WATERS IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR ROUGH WATERS: Because you can’t change your mother-in-law, the most direct way to handle this would be to tell her that her confidences have made you uncomfortable, and you don’t want to hear another word about her physical attraction to the cleric.

I assume your father-in-law is aware of all this? If not, she should inform him.

I will further assume that because your in-laws are family, you don’t plan to ask them to move. Putting an end to her attempts to indoctrinate your toddler is as easy as hiring a babysitter.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for 23 years. We are both originally from Europe.

He hasn’t seen his brother in 25 years, so we are planning to go on vacation near where his brother is currently living with his girlfriend. My husband will pay for them, as they can’t afford a trip, and they’ll be staying with us for two or three days.

My dilemma: My husband expects us all to share a two-bedroom hotel suite. Abby, I do not know these people. I’m anxious about sharing a suite with people I have never met and with whom I do not share a common language.

I have expressed my unease to my husband and asked if we could have two separate hotel rooms. He was very upset at my suggestion and said it will cost him more to arrange two rooms. He now wants to cancel the trip due to my “selfishness.”

Am I being unreasonable?

— NERVOUS IN NEW YORK

DEAR NERVOUS: Because your husband feels he cannot afford to pay for completely separate accommodations, tell him you will agree to his plan with certain ground rules in place.

First, he must translate for you any conversations he has with his brother and the girlfriend in which you are present. (This is time-consuming, hard work!) Second, you will be free to take excursions on your own if you wish, so you aren’t trapped the entire time listening to conversations that are Greek to you.

Give it a try, and you may be pleasantly surprised to find you like your brother-in-law and his lady friend. If it turns out you don’t, you do not have to go along on your husband’s next visit, which may not happen for another quarter of a century.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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