Mother-in-law's summer visit overwhelming

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My husband's parents left our hometown and moved to Florida 20 years ago when my three kids were babies. Now that my father-in-law has passed away, my mother-in-law comes to visit every summer for a month. Although she is not a bad person, she is self-absorbed and talks constantly. She never asks me anything, and when I try to interject, it's as if she doesn't hear me. She's not elderly. At this point I just let her talk. My husband tries to pick up the slack a little bit, but she gives him a pass because, "He's tired from working all day." I work full-time too. We often have to decline invitations and weekend getaways because she's at our house. She does see friends while she is here, but, unfortunately, only while I am at work. Needless to say, it's a long month. It's summertime in Maine, which is short enough. How can I tell her a month is too long to have a houseguest, without hurting her feelings?

-- Frustrated in Maine

DEAR FRUSTRATED: You might have to hurt her feelings, or change the parameters of her visit enough so that it doesn't have as great an impact on you. For instance, if she switched her visit from July or August to September, it might make all the difference.

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You should build into her visit some times when you get away, both with and without your husband. If you spent one evening a week out with friends, you would recharge. Ask her if she feels comfortable staying in the house or with a local friend if you two go away for a night.

DEAR AMY: I would like to echo what others have said regarding the disturbing letter from "Conflicted in Iowa," the man who was visiting a co-worker's home and witnessed the man hitting his wife. Obviously, Conflicted felt so guilty about it that he wrote to you, many years later. This is proof that he should have said or done something.

-- Disturbed

DEAR DISTURBED: I agree. He knew he should have acted, but didn't know what he should have done.

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