Hard-hearted mother-in-law has worn out her welcome

Published 11:14 am Monday, May 2, 2022

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DEAR ABBY: For more than 20 years, my mother-in-law has shown blatant favoritism toward my husband’s younger brother. Several people, including her own mother and my father-in-law, have tried to discuss it with her, but she refuses. My husband has accepted that there is nothing he can do to change her behavior.
Abby, she has recently, on the rare occasions we see her (once every three to four years), started making snide comments, implying she’s “concerned,” regarding the intellect of our children, one of whom is in an AP program.
While my husband accepts her lack of love for him and would never cease contact with her, I find her difficult to be around because she is just plain cruel. I would like to discourage her from visiting us in the future. Am I wrong to feel as I do? — PROUD WIFE AND MOM

DEAR PROUD: No. By all means keep your mother-in-law away from the grandchildren, because even though she sees them rarely, she’ll likely find some way to make them feel “less than.” If you thought someone was tainting their food, you wouldn’t stand by and watch. Well, the same is true if someone is attempting to lower their self-esteem with snide comments.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 35 years. Five years ago, he lost the ability to perform sexually. I admit it hasn’t been a priority since I’ve gotten older and have some health issues. We have figured out other ways to enjoy each other. The problem is, he makes ugly comments about our lack of intimacy as if it’s my fault he can’t perform. The comments are hurtful and cause me to not want to do anything.
It seems he can turn any remark I make about something into one about sex, and my feelings are often hurt. One minute he’s saying how he wouldn’t change anything about our life together, and the next he’s saying something mean. I’m at a loss about what to do. It’s almost like he’s two different people. I dread nighttime because that’s when it starts. Any ideas? — EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your husband may be embarrassed, angry and frustrated that he can no longer perform, and he’s projecting all of that onto you. He could also be starting to “lose it.” I assume you have expressed to him how hurtful his remarks are. Now it’s time to discuss this with your family physician, who knows your husband better than I do.
DEAR ABBY: Under what circumstances is it socially acceptable to read a stranger’s tattoo? I often admire the beautiful artwork, and one can appreciate that with a quick glance. But nowadays, I often encounter people tattooed with a phrase, a quote or even a whole paragraph on their body. Is it rude to stop, stare and read the tattoo? Should I first ask permission? — INTRIGUED IN ST. LOUIS, MO.

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DEAR INTRIGUED: When in doubt, ALWAYS ask permission before ogling. If you don’t, your admiration could be misconstrued, which could get you in trouble, depending upon where the tattoo is located.
TO MY MUSLIM READERS: At sundown, it is time for the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Happy Eid al-Fitr, everyone. — LOVE, ABBY
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.