MIL’s smoking habit has young mother seeing red

Published 8:26 am Tuesday, September 26, 2023

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law is a heavy smoker. She lives two hours away from us, so when she visits, she likes to stay for one or two nights. My husband and I have a 3-year-old son, and my MIL’s smoking is a huge concern for me.
Every two hours, she smokes outside on our back patio. She seems to think this is her right. She closes the sliding glass door behind her, but I can still smell the smoke inside the entire time. And, of course, when she comes back inside, the smell permeates even more.
After her last visit, our home smelled like an ashtray. My eyes burned, and my son was also rubbing his eyes. By the second day, I’m seething each time she ventures out to smoke. I have asked her in the past to go down the street away from our home, but there’s always an excuse why she can’t. (For example, she doesn’t want to risk walking down the incline of the sidewalk for fear of falling.)
I don’t think it should be her right to expose my child (or us) to her harmful addiction. I need advice on how to make clear that if she intends to visit our home and son in the future, smoking will not be permitted anywhere. My husband thinks we should just tolerate it while she’s here. – FUMING IN THE WEST

DEAR FUMING: As much as I agree that smoking is unhealthy and a social turnoff, your husband is right. His mother is severely addicted to smoking if she can’t go more than two hours without a “fix.” She is cooperating to the extent she can with your house rules, so if you want a relationship with her (if only so your child has a chance to know his grandmother), I suggest you lighten up.
DEAR ABBY: I met a man at the grocery store and I don’t know if he is The One. He seems to keep trying, but at times he says mean things. He also refuses to buy a new bed. His bed is from his divorce. It is the bed he and his ex-wife shared. I’d prefer he get a new one.
Am I too uncompromising? I have been hurt a lot in the past because I was raised to be “nice” and “nonjudgmental,” which really hasn’t been helpful in life. I accepted a lot of mistreatment, and many men hurt me. I am not sure if this guy is any different.
Should I wait to date him until he gets new furniture? At this point, we only talk and text on the phone. – PUT OFF IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR PUT OFF: Slow down. With your unfortunate romantic history, it’s important you get to know men before you invest emotionally in them. Because all you do at this point is text each other and talk on the phone, it is premature to expect this guy to shell out for a new bed. (See if you can talk him into investing in a new MATTRESS and work your way up from there.) It may give you an opportunity to gauge how open he is to compromise, which is important in any lasting romantic relationship.
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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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