DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for more than a year. (We've been together for seven years.) It's a second marriage for both of us, and together we're raising four beautiful children.
When I married this man, I knew full well his sister bitterly disapproved of me but hoped she would get over it with time. Now that we've been happily married for a year, she's worse than ever.
I don't know what I ever did to cause my sister-in-law to hate me. She was like a mother figure to my husband when he was young, as she is 25 years older. She disliked my husband's first wife, too, but wasn't nearly as cruel to her. In fact, now that they're divorced, she's friendly with her.
It's gotten back to me that my sister-in-law has told hurtful lies about me and my children to family members and the community. She has also insulted me to my face at family gatherings. Now I get anxious to the point of feeling ill before attending a family function.
My mother-in-law sees how much pain her daughter causes me and becomes upset, as do my husband and children. Everyone thinks she is jealous of me. That's no excuse, as far as I'm concerned.
I am a respected mother and wife and have given this woman no reason to hurt me. Please, Abby, could you advise me on the best way to handle her? I have carried this heartache for too long. -- SCORNED SISTER-IN-LAW IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR SCORNED: I'm mystified that you and your family continue to attend gatherings that make you physically ill. Whoever hosts these family get-togethers and allows this verbal abuse to happen is partly to blame by not letting her know her behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If she refuses to cooperate, it would be a relief to all concerned if this sister-in-law were excluded from family gatherings until she agrees to be civil and act like a lady.
DEAR ABBY: Recently a reader asked if it was appropriate to renew her wedding vows after only five years of marriage. You encouraged her to go for it. I agree.
Here's my story: After only one year of marriage, my husband and I encountered some serious problems and were on the verge of going our separate ways. However, we both knew if we put forth the effort, we could turn things around -- so I came up with a plan:
The night of our first wedding anniversary my husband and I went out to dinner. Afterward I blindfolded him in the car and drove to one of those little instant wedding chapels, so we could renew our vows. I had made arrangements with the chapel the day before.
We arrived early and waited outside the chapel because another wedding was still taking place inside. A group of young people were standing nearby, and they couldn't help but giggle when they saw my blindfolded husband. They probably thought this poor fella was being tricked into marrying me!
When it was our turn, we entered the chapel and I removed the blindfold. When my husband realized what I had planned, his eyes filled with tears.
The minister was exceptional and encouraged us to make a fresh start. My husband and I have had our share of ups and downs (as couples do), but that night we vowed to hang on to that "special something" we always had. We truly are each other's best friend, Abby. We will celebrate our third anniversary next October. -- FULLY COMMITTED IN WEST VIRGINIA
DEAR FULLY COMMITTED: It appears you have both taken your blinders off and are recommitted to your vows to each other. Sometimes it's helpful to go back to square one when trying to resolve a problem. May your union be a long and happy one.
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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600