Archive for Friday, January 19, 2001

Woman must curb mother-in-law’s helpfulness

January 19, 2001


Dear Ann: My mother-in-law is driving me up the wall. She baby-sits for my children two days a week after school. While she is here, she takes it upon herself to clean my cupboards, polish the mirrors, wax the floors, and so on, in spite of the fact that I have asked her not to. She also brings complete meals "for our supper," even though I prefer my own food. She has purchased linens for my table, curtains for my kitchen, and bathroom accessories, which, by the time I notice, she has already used, so I cannot return them.

Mom now assumes she will be spending every weekend with us, and makes plans accordingly. She never checks with us first. She often drops in because "she was in the neighborhood," and when she baby-sits, she comes at least two hours earlier than necessary.

I am grateful that my mother-in-law takes care of my children after school, but she is now taking over my house and my life. I don't want to offend her, but I would prefer to cook my own meals, clean my own house, buy my own table linens and decorate my own bathroom. My husband says she is trying to be helpful, but I feel as if she is undermining my authority as a wife and mother. Any advice? No Name, No City, No State

Dear No Name: You had better get in the driver's seat before your mother-in-law drives you to distraction. How did this woman get so much control? It did not happen overnight. You must tell her she needs more time for herself and that you have hired a baby sitter then DO IT. Even if you can afford to hire the sitter only one afternoon a week, it's worth it. Also, let Mom know that you and your husband need to have weekends alone because during the week, you are both too busy running in opposite directions.

None of the above will be easy, but unless you free yourself from the clutches of this aggressive, controlling woman, you are going to explode with anger and it will have serious repercussions on your marriage.

Dear Ann: I was unhappily married for 27 years, but stayed to raise my children. As soon as they were past their teen years, I divorced my husband, and decided it was time to live my own life. I eventually met a wonderful man who loves me, and we were married six months ago.

My 22-year-old son is getting married next spring. "Rory" has always been close to his paternal grandfather. However, the old man has said he will not come to the wedding if I bring my new husband. Rory loves his grandfather, and I certainly don't want to make him choose between us, but this is terribly unfair. It has been over two years since I left my marriage, and I do not understand why my ex-father-in-law can't accept the situation.

Should I tell my wonderful husband to stay home, or should I insist on bringing him and risk hurting Rory, knowing his grandfather will miss the wedding? I want to do the right thing. Please give me some guidance. Torn in Delaware

Dear Delaware: Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Gramps' demands are totally unreasonable, but I doubt anything will change his mind. The most important person in this scenario is Rory and he wants Gramps to be there.

There is a solution, which might not make everyone happy, but it's a decent compromise. Ask your wonderful husband to come AFTER the ceremony, so that Gramps can attend and Rory can have his grandfather by his side. Your husband can then join you for the reception. This should satisfy one and all.

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