03/14/2011DEAR ABBY: When my husband is mad at me, he will recite all the good things he has done for me, but "forgets" all but one or two things I have done for him.
I try to be considerate and caring every single day, and when I can't recite the list of the good things I do, I end up feeling low and unworthy.
Shouldn't kindness be given just because you love and care about someone? Am I wrong to feel bad because I can't summon up at the drop of a hat every little thing I do all the time? Why should I even have to point out these things in the first place? Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. -- IT'S A SHORT LIST
DEAR SHORT LIST: When a person is being berated and adrenaline is rushing through her system, it's not surprising that she isn't capable of a long oration. The instinct is probably to run for cover.
What you have said is right on target. So, please, take a few minutes (or more) while you are calm and make a list of all the good things you do and have done for your spouse. Then make about 100 copies. And when your husband starts that lecture again -- and you know he will -- hand him one.
DEAR ABBY: My wife recently established a Facebook account in order to reach out and keep up with her family and friends. I've had an account for a few years, but I am not very active. I asked her to be my "friend," but she refused. She is extremely conscious of her image and claims I might send her something her friends and family could interpret as controversial and damaging to her professional or personal reputation.
What does this say about her feelings toward me? Does she perceive me as a liability? What avenue should I take to find out where I stand with her in the pecking order of importance? -- BLOCKED IN HOUSTON
DEAR BLOCKED: What this says about your wife's feelings is that some of your behavior has embarrassed her in the past, or she is posting something online that she doesn't want you to see. Or, she may be hiding something -- whether it's something she's doing or something she's saying. You two need to work on your communication skills, online and offline.
DEAR ABBY: I'm one of those daughters-in-law who are "unkind" and "ignore" their mothers-in-law. I'm shocked you didn't ask that mother-in-law who wrote you about her daughter-in-law (Feb. 6) why it was happening.
In my case it's because she belittles me, is rude and finds fault with everything I do. An actual complaint she made was that I didn't make enough eye contact with her during a family party. Abby, there were 10 other guests and she was across the room.
When I speak to my mother-in-law, she constantly reinterprets what I say, giving my words her own meaning; then she becomes offended by the meaning she assigned, not what I said. I am her son's wife; I am not a doormat. I'm the mother of her grandkids, and it's not my responsibility to fulfill her emotional need to feel important.
A healthy relationship is a two-way street, whether it's between spouses, parents and children or daughters-in-law with their mothers-in-law. -- DISGUSTED DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
DEAR DISGUSTED: There are often two sides to every story, and I'm sorry your relationship with your mother-in-law is such a poor one. Thank you for writing and sharing the other side.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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