DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I went to Europe on vacation, we asked our next-door neighbor to keep an eye on our house. My husband's parents had volunteered to do it. However, although I have a close and cordial relationship with my in-laws, I felt more comfortable leaving the key with neighbors who are members of our local neighborhood watch group. They could keep a closer eye on things while we were away.
Months later, at Christmas, I discovered my mother-in-law had been in our house several times in our absence "looking for gift ideas." When they gave us a set of pots and pans, she admitted to having gone through the linen closet and our kitchen cupboards. I was shocked, and asked when she had done this. She then disclosed that they had made a duplicate of our hide-a-key and had stopped by on several occasions when our neighbor was at work, just to check our house, "which is so much better than leaving it to a stranger."
My husband and I discussed it and decided not to ruin the holidays by confronting his mom and dad and asking them to return the key.
We are now moving to a new house in a town farther away. I'm sure his folks will want to stay with us when they come to visit, and we will be happy to have them.
We feel that our privacy has been violated. However, we don't want to cause a rift in the family. How can my husband and I prevent them from having the key to our new home duplicated? -- LOOKING FOR PRIVACY, NO CITY, PLEASE
DEAR LOOKING: I understand your desire not to spoil the holidays; however, I sense that you are looking for a solution that will avoid confrontation.
Invest in a keyless entry system for your new home, and change the entry code the day after your in-laws depart. If that isn't feasible, I suggest a heart-to-heart discussion about your privacy, or re-key the locks after they leave.
DEAR ABBY: I'm about to be married for the third time, to a woman who is also twice divorced. I love her dearly and I know she loves me, but there's a problem:
"Crissy" wants to keep her last married name for the sake of her daughter so that she and her daughter will have the same last name. The daughter, "Janie," is 9, and Crissy is worried that Janie will feel abandoned if her mother has a different last name. She also says it's easier if school records and medical records show her mother having the same last name.
I feel she should drop her former husband's last name and adopt mine. For her not to do so would be a sign that she isn't going into this marriage with 100 percent commitment. Am I being petty, or do I have a legitimate gripe? -- MY NAME OR HIS?
DEAR MY NAME: Multiple marriages and blended families are so common these days that your wife is worrying needlessly about her daughter's school and medical records. However, if she's afraid Janie would feel "abandoned" if she's the only person in the household with the former name, a compromise might be to hyphenate her present name with yours. It's a popular practice among professional women.
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