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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother of Sons Dreads Her Future as a Mother in Law

DEAR ABBY: I live with a man I'll call Elmer who is, for the most part, a great guy. He accepted my son as his own and provided for him the same way he does for our daughter. We have a nice home, material comforts, and Elmer makes sure all our bills are covered if I can't afford to pay them myself.

Last year, I decided I wanted to go and swim with the dolphins -- literally. I told Elmer this is a spiritual thing, something I want to do for myself and by myself. Elmer tends to be sort of a control freak, but if I stand my ground, he usually backs down. With this dolphin thing, though, he's making my life miserable.

Elmer has 1,001 reasons for me not to take the trip, none of which are valid.

What can I do to make him see that there are plenty of couples who sometimes take separate trips? He says if I love him, I won't go without him. He didn't give me this hard a time when I changed religions. -- NEEDS ADVICE IN MARYLAND

DEAR NEEDS: Since I don't know Elmer, it's hard to say what you can do to reassure him. He may be afraid that you will get in over your head -- literally. Or he may feel insecure about the relationship he has with you since you are not married.

However, in life we must all follow our own spiritual paths. We must also prioritize our wishes in the order of their importance. If swimming with the dolphins is more important to you than Elmer, then you will have to dive in, even if it means swimming through the rest of your life without him.