Dear Ann: I am writing about the woman from "Lake Worth, Fla.," whose daughter-in-law no longer speaks to her and cut her off from the grandchildren after they had a terrible argument two years ago. You said the daughter-in-law should find it in her heart to forgive the woman, or she would regret it later. Don't bet the farm, Annie.
I am sad to report that I identified with the drastic actions of the daughter-in-law. When I married, I hoped to have a happy, close relationship with my husband's parents, based on mutual respect. Instead, I have endured unbelievable verbal and emotional abuse and have been treated like a second-class citizen, even in my own home. My in-laws took over our wedding, tried to choose the names for our children, and insisted on telling us where to spend holidays and vacations. They did not like my parents and made no secret of it.
My husband and I moved away because they were damaging our marriage. We still visit, but not often. Their behavior put a strain on our marriage, and it simply was not worth it. Any argument where someone winds up not speaking for two years indicates serious, long-term trouble. In-laws should remember that it is in their own best interest to develop a good relationship with their son's wife, especially when grandchildren are involved. After 11 years, it would not bother me one bit if I never saw my in-laws again. Fed Up in South Carolina
Dear Fed Up: Your description of The In-Laws From Hell was depressing. The sad part of in-law battles is that they end up with one set of parents estranged from the grandchildren. Everybody loses. Here's more on the subject:
From Ft. Worth, Tex.: That letter could have been written by my mother. She and my sister-in-law haven't spoken for 20 years. I love Mom dearly, but she can be very manipulative. She comes across as sympathetic and innocent, but she is a chronic liar and a gossip. The woman has had problems with everyone in the family. After 15 years of marriage, my sister-in-law "divorced" my mother, and I don't blame her. There are two sides to every story, Ann.
Lafayette, La.: That daughter-in-law is behaving childishly. My mother went through a similar situation, and it was devastating. Not only is this daughter-in-law hurting her husband's mother, she is also hurting her children. How terrible to use the children to get revenge on the grandparents. Even if she doesn't want to see her in-laws, she should make sure the kids visit. What is this daughter-in-law teaching her own children about forgiveness? How sad.
Andover, Mass.: A parent's responsibility is to expose their children to healthy relationships, not toxic ones just because they happen to be related. My mother and sisters are like an aggressive wolfpack. They need to control everything and are critical and mean to my wife. I have gotten counseling and read dozens of books. I even offered to pay for joint counseling, but my mother refuses. She sees nothing wrong with her behavior. I used your test, "Are you better off with them or without them?" and decided I am a lot happier without them, and believe me, Ann, that decision was good for my health.
Republic of Croatia: Humans make mistakes. That mother admitted she was wrong and has tried to apologize. I am shocked by her daughter-in-law's attitude. She is teaching her children it's OK to hate people. Someone should remind her what goes around, comes around, because before long, it will be her turn.