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DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Clay," has a very abnormal relationship with his mother. (I'll call her "Jewel," although she's far from one.)

Clay frequently tells me I'll never be as perfect as Jewel, that she's a living saint. He tells her how much money he makes, but he won't tell me, and he refuses to tell me where his money goes. He insists we have separate checking accounts, but he shares an account with Jewel. Abby, Clay earns three or four times as much as I do, but he never helps financially.

He never buys groceries, and I've had to pawn my jewelry, work overtime and beg my parents for money to put food on the table for our three children. Clay will pay nothing toward the children's clothing or doctor visits, and he has never bought them –- or me -– a gift for any occasion. He has never bought anything for our home, either.

Jewel is nosy and butts into every aspect of our lives. She claims she "loves" us and is "trying to help." When she calls, if no one answers, she demands to know where we were -- and Clay tells her. If he goes somewhere alone and I ask where he's been, he says it's none of my business and accuses me of being controlling. Jewel calls to question him five times a day and it's OK, but when I ask him anything, I'm "intruding" on his life.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. Abby, how can I get him to understand how his relationship with his mother is hurting me? Mothers and sons should be close, but not that close. It's time for him to cut the umbilical cord. I'm desperate –- please help me. -- MARRIED TO A MAMA'S BOY

DEAR MARRIED TO A MAMA'S BOY: The "saint" in the family must be you –- for having tolerated this situation long enough to have three children with this man.

Your mother-in-law may be part of your problem, but your marriage to Clay is so out of balance I almost hesitate to call it a marriage. When people marry, they have certain financial obligations toward each other that Clay seems to have ignored completely.

Marriage counseling might be helpful, but only after you have consulted a lawyer to learn what your rights are –- because it seems to me you're enduring all of the hassles and enjoying none of the privileges of marriage.

DEAR ABBY: I have an irritating problem I'm sure many people can relate to. My name is "Phoebe," pronounced "Fee-bee." Why is it the majority of people pronounce it "Fobe," "Fobee" or "Phobia"? Is there an appropriate method of correcting people?

This is especially embarrassing when I visit the doctor and the nurse steps into the waiting room and calls for "Fobee" or "Fobe." It aggravates me that so many people have such difficulty with my name, yet no one seems to mispronounce Phoenix. Why is that? -- PHOEBE

DEAR PHOEBE: Try not to be embarrassed when people mispronounce your name. Simply correct them and move on, knowing they probably won't make the same mistake twice. I'm sure you're not the only one with this problem. It probably also happened to Caesar.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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