DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 13 years and have never been able to establish a close relationship with my in-laws. They have always gone out of their way to exclude me from family conversations and gatherings. They are very attentive toward my children, but they made it clear to me a long time ago that I am not welcome in their presence. I'm sick of it.
My husband is no help at all. He has private conversations with his parents, and it's like pulling teeth to get him to share any details with me. His family gets together for shopping trips, Bible seminars -- even getaway cruises. I am never included.
I am a likable person, Abby. I have many loyal, longtime friends and acquaintances. It's a mystery to me why my in-laws aren't kinder and more inclusive. As time goes by, it gets worse and worse. I love my children and my husband. But he is becoming more like them, and I feel increasingly isolated. I am desperately lonely for family fun and inclusiveness. Is this normal? -- THE OUTLAW IN EAST TEXAS
DEAR OUTLAW: For your husband's family to have treated you like an outsider all these years is deplorable. However, for your husband to tolerate it -- and cooperate with it -- is worse. It is betrayal. That said, you cannot change them. Your husband might see the light through counseling. However, if he refuses, it is time to ask yourself, seriously, if this is how you want to live the rest of your life, and if you're better off with him or without him.
DEAR ABBY: My wife of seven years, "Joy," and I are trying to get out of debt, so we work opposite shifts to save on child-care costs. We have two little ones, 6 and 2. (I work days and she works the night shift.)
Unfortunately, Joy's manager, "Vic," has had his eye on her for some time. Vic is married and nearly twice her age. I discovered e-mails they'd sent each other, which make clear that he is only after one thing. When I confronted my wife, she admitted making "one stupid mistake," then promised to cut him off.
On the home front, things were better than ever until I found a new e-mail from Vic that was "too hot to handle." When I called her on it, Joy told me she loves me and wants to keep our family together, but I can see she is still infatuated with Vic.
I decided to take matters into my own hands. I contacted him directly and told him to lay off. Now I'm getting the cold shoulder from my wife.
I dearly love Joy and do not want to lose her. I am looking for a new job that will allow me to spend more time at home. What else can I do, Abby? -- WORRIED HUSBAND AND FATHER WHO WANTS TO MAKE IT WORK
DEAR WORRIED: You're not the only one who needs a job change. For the sake of your marriage, Joy must get away from her manager.
It may take time to heal your relationship, but marriage counseling for both of you can hasten the process. I wish you luck.
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