Son has become a doormat to cheating, abusive wife

Published 8:19 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: Our daughter-in-law is morally corrupt, egotistical and narcissistic. For almost a year she has been blatant about having an affair and has abused and disrespected our son and two of her three daughters. She has taken innumerable vacations over the years without our son. When they are together at home, she constantly puts him down and psychologically abuses him, usually in front of his younger daughters. 

She tries to meet her boyfriend whenever possible. Usually, she sends him a text and then goes “shopping.” If my son is around to watch the kids, she’ll just leave. If she’s home, she has long phone conversations with the boyfriend, even though the children are present. 

The oldest daughter knows what’s happening, as she has told her dad as much. The funny thing is, his wife thinks no one knows what’s going on when we all know what’s going on. All we can do is encourage our son to get a lawyer. That’s probably just what she wants, so she can make him the bad guy. Thanks for any suggestion you might have. – MYSTIFIED IN MINNESOTA

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DEAR MYSTIFIED: I understand why, as a caring parent, you are upset about the treatment your son has been receiving. But until he is willing to admit to himself that his marriage is irretrievably damaged, nothing will change. 

Support him emotionally and tell him to talk to an attorney about what his options and responsibilities would be if he chose to divorce his wife. What’s happening now is not good for his children, which is why he might want to ask for custody. He doesn’t have to file papers, but it may educate him about what to do (and expect) next. The rest is up to him. 


DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have traveled many times with two other couples who are dear friends. My husband recently passed away, but I plan to continue traveling with them. We’ve traditionally split expenses such as condo and car rentals equally, with each couple paying one third. 

We now have our first trip planned since my husband’s passing. We’re planning to rent a three-bedroom condo and a vehicle large enough to accommodate all of us and our luggage. They assumed I would pay one-third of the condo expense, since I’ll have my own bedroom. I’m fine with that. 

My question is regarding the rental car. We haven’t discussed how we’ll split the cost, but I think it would be fair to split the car five ways, since there are only five of us now. I don’t want to cause friction between us, and I’d appreciate your thoughts on how the car rental cost should be split and how I should approach discussing this with them. – UNCERTAIN TRAVELER


DEAR UNCERTAIN: Because your situation has changed, I don’t think it would be inappropriate to raise the subject of splitting the cost of the car rental five ways. These are longtime friends, and your point is valid. Mention it the next time the trip is discussed.


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.


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