DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Jack," grew up with an emotionally abusive mother. He's had limited contact with her for the past seven years. A few months ago, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given less than a year to live. Jack has tried to let go of his past anger in order to emotionally support her and spend quality time with her during her final months. He has paid some of her doctor's bills and made sure her cupboards are stocked with nutritious food.
Last week, she announced that she is marrying her boyfriend. She plans to leave him the family heirlooms and a large inheritance from her mother that was meant to be shared by my husband, his siblings and the grandchildren.
Jack doesn't want to attend his mother's wedding, but he feels guilty not going. What do you think? -- SHOCKED IN SYRACUSE
DEAR SHOCKED: Your husband's mother is consistent. She's remained emotionally abusive to the end. In her warped mind, this is the next best thing to "taking it with her."
Your husband and his siblings would benefit from family counseling. They did not get the mother they deserve and should not feel guilty limiting their -- albeit brief -- future interaction with her.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Bob," and I were married in Las Vegas. It was a second marriage for both of us. We had planned on a small, quiet wedding with only his brother and sister-in-law as witnesses.
Without consulting Bob or me, his sister-in-law "surprised" us by upgrading our hotel room to a suite that adjoined theirs. In addition, she invited several surprise guests -- one of whom was "Anna," my husband's former high school sweetheart. (She had been a foreign exchange student from Germany and happened to be visiting the U.S. at the time.)
Anna has been married for many years and has two grown sons. I had always known that Bob's family was fond of her and had remained in touch over the years. They even visited Anna and her family in Europe twice.
I did my best not to overreact, but Anna's surprise appearance completely ruined my wedding -- not to mention the honeymoon. (My husband and I hardly had a minute to ourselves.)
We have now been married three years. Bob adopted my little boy and is a wonderful husband and father. I feel truly blessed to have such a happy home.
The problem? Anna is once again planning a trip to the U.S. to see Bob and the family. I see red every time I hear them singing her praises. (Not since Mother Teresa has there been such a saint!) I am filled with anger and dread over her impending visit and cannot imagine how I'll get through it. Bob knows how I feel. He says he loves me and there's absolutely nothing to worry about.
Am I being unreasonable -- or is this an unreasonable situation? -- HAPPY/UNHAPPY WIFE IN LOS ANGELES
DEAR HAPPY/UNHAPPY: I wouldn't call you unreasonable. Unrealistic is more like it. There is an old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Anna is an old family friend from the past. Her romance with your husband is long over -- and there is our whole country and the Atlantic Ocean between them. Please don't put yourself in the middle. Give her a hearty welcome. She won't be here long -- and you might even grow to like her.
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