DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I got engaged a few months ago. It should be the happiest time of my life, but my future mother-in-law is giving me doubts. She has talked down to me as if I’m a child, even though I own my own home and am succeeding in my career. She has told us that we cannot afford a wedding, has belittled our relationship and has been unsupportive. Rude comments such as, “You only get married once... well, hopefully,” have left me in tears time and time again. I don’t dare be left alone with her anymore, as it usually results in her hurting my feelings severely. My fiance has seen me sob over her hurtful remarks and has gotten into verbal fights with her over wedding-related issues. She says she wants to be included, but her attitude is terrible. Before our engagement, I would have called us “friendly.” I understand that to her it feels like I am taking her youngest son from her. But I feel that she is making this situation even worse for herself by being controlling, overbearing and out of line. Help!
DEAR STRESSED-OUT: The comment, “You only get married once... well, hopefully.” is true. Maybe I’m missing the context that made you cry, but that is basically a true statement.
Your future mother-in-law sounds very cynical about weddings. She should keep her cynicism to herself, and being honest about your own feelings beats blubbering in the corner.
Toughen up like the tough cookie you are, and make a determination not to be exposed to this condescension. If you don’t want her involved in your wedding, then don’t involve her. At all. Discuss only matters that have to do directly with her.
You also need to figure out why your feelings are so tender that you don’t dare be left alone with her. When you learn to respond — firmly and respectfully — she will adjust her attitude, or at least learn that the way she talks to you has consequences.
Note to you: You are not “taking her youngest son from her.” You are marrying him. He is not a piece of property, to be traded or fought over.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been married for 23 years. Lately, she seems to be angry with me. I ask her what is wrong, and she says “nothing.” I feel like I am being held hostage, wondering what I did wrong. I am almost ready to pack up a few belongings and leave and not tell her why, but I love her to pieces and would miss her. Lately she has had a lot of health issues and she seems to be miserable all the time. I have tried to take care of her as best I can, and she always tells me how much she loves me, but I can’t remember the last time we had an intimate moment. We are both in our 60s. I feel like I have lost my best friend and the love of my life. I just don’t know what to do.
DEAR PERPLEXED: You and your wife need to learn how to talk to each other.
Your impulse to leave without explanation only deepens the chasm between you. If you’re going to leave, you should tell her exactly how you feel before you go.
Instead of asking your wife, “What’s wrong” and taking “Nothing” as her answer, you should tell her how her behavior and attitude affects you.
Say, “You seem very unhappy, grouchy and angry lately. It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong. I don’t want to have such an angry marriage. Can we get back on track?” You should remind her that you are on her side.
She may tell you that when she doesn’t feel well, she would rather not interact at all, but it is her responsibility to use her words.
Once you two start talking about your feelings, you should also talk about your sexual intimacy. Don’t take your very long relationship for granted, and make a commitment to confront and work through your problems, even if it creates some uncomfortable moments for both of you.
DEAR AMY: I appreciate your thoughtful replies to people inquiring about being godparents. However, it is important to stress that a godparent, while an important symbolic title, is very different from being named a guardian, which is a legal designation.
DEAR LAWYER: These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but yes, they are very different.