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Dad Can't Be Thanked Enough for Helping Daughter Pay Bills

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married just over a year. It's the second marriage for both of us. Since our wedding, my father-in-law continually "reminds" us that he helped my wife financially after her divorce. He does it because he wants us to continually acknowledge that fact.

I have offered to write a check and pay him back for all he did for her during that time, but he refused because he doesn't want the money; he wants the appreciation. To him what that means is when he calls on the phone, we answer. When he and his wife drop by, we are home, etc. I feel that since I have offered to pay him back and he refused the money, the slate is wiped clean. Your thoughts? -- NOT SON-IN-LAW OF THE YEAR

DEAR SON-IN-LAW: Your father-in-law regards his generosity as a means to control your wife -- and you by extension. You are not required to answer your phone if you prefer not to talk at a particular time, and you certainly do not have to entertain him and his wife at the drop of a hat. The next time the subject comes up, explain that to him, hand him a check and let the chips fall where they may.

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