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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: After reading her letter about her mother-in-law, I have heartfelt sympathy for "Charlotte in North Carolina." However, I think that your advice that she should start looking for another man for her mother-in-law was unrealistic. The chances of her finding a man who would put up with a witch like her mother-in-law are pretty slim. I have the same mother-in-law problem, so here's my advice to Charlotte:

Your mother-in-law will never accept you, understand you or listen to you, so don't hold your breath waiting for her to see the light. If she's anything like mine, she uses guilt like a master manipulator. She'll turn on the tears or spout outright lies to get her way.

Tearing your family apart for her own selfish needs is heartless. However, as much as you want to blame your mother-in-law, your husband is the one to blame. Only he can put "Mommie Dearest" in her place.

At first, my husband thought I was too sensitive to his mother's indirect insults. However, once he took notice of them, he began to understand my feelings.

Charlotte, discuss your mother-in-law's comments with your husband while they're still fresh. Point out situations where she's interfering with family time. Always remember that she's his mother and the children's grandmother, and she deserves respect even when you don't get hers in return. You can learn to play the game.

Granted, you'll never get rid of the old battle-ax, but it helps if your husband is on your side to counter her attacks. Perhaps one day she'll get the hint and get a life of her own. -- KEEPING THE PEACE, TERRE HAUTE, IND.

DEAR KEEPING THE PEACE: I am printing your letter in its entirety with the hope that it will provide a blueprint for "Charlotte" to follow. I can think of few relationships as emotionally charged as those between daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law.

P.S. I'm one of the lucky ones. I love my mother-in-law! Rose Phillips, take a bow.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend took me to a party where I felt really out of place. A woman he knew was there, and my boyfriend sat and talked to her for hours. I sat by myself. Fortunately, my brother-in-law was also a guest, so when he saw I had been deserted, he more or less entertained me. When food was served, I looked up and saw my boyfriend leading this woman to a porch where they could sit and talk some more, while I again sat by myself.

Later that night, I told him he was rude and inconsiderate. Was I wrong? -- PARTY BLUES IN RICHMOND, VA.

DEAR PARTY BLUES: No, you were not wrong. Your boyfriend was rude and inconsiderate -- and if you are still with him, you are foolish. You can do better.

Next time around, try to find a boyfriend as sensitive and considerate as your brother-in-law, and you'll have yourself a winner.

DEAR READERS: A man went into a fortune-teller's shop and waited for a reading. The fortune-teller gazed into the crystal ball and said, "You will be poor and unhappy until you are 45 years old."

"Then what will happen?" asked the man.

The fortune-teller replied, "Then you'll get used to it."

Thank you, Anonymous Reader, for sending this to me. I think it's a hoot.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600