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by Abigail Van Buren

Preschool Recycling Begins With Some Adult Education

DEAR ABBY: I used to think mother-in-law jokes were funny. Not any more. I realize that there must be some good mothers-in-law, but I wasn't lucky enough to get one.

My husband's mother refuses to accept that she cannot run my life, and my husband refuses to tell her to quit trying. He says if I have any complaints about his mother, I should tell her -- not him.

He spends a lot of time with his parents, and he does whatever his mother tells him to do. How can I handle this without causing a lot of problems? -- MAD IN MADISON

DEAR MAD: Take your husband's advice. If your mother-in-law tries to tell you what to do, tell her, woman-to-woman, that you are quite capable of making your own decisions. When you involve your husband, you are asking him to fight your battles in opposition to his mother. Not a very good idea. You need a course in assertiveness. (Yes, such courses are available. Check with your local college.)

Another suggestion to improve your marriage: See your clergyperson or a marriage counselor. If your husband refuses to join you for counseling, go alone.