DEAR ABBY: Our oldest daughter is being married soon. When we pulled out our wedding album to show her our pictures, my mother-in-law, "Edith," started laughing and said she hoped our daughter's wedding would be better than ours was. Then she said our wedding had been "an embarrassment," and she wished she hadn't invited any of her friends to it!
Abby, her son and I have been married more than 25 years. This was the first time Edith has ever mentioned my "awful" wedding. My father-in-law tried to shut her up, but she went on and on about how she should have stepped in and "helped."
My husband and I think his mother should apologize, but she says we are being "too sensitive." My daughter is upset about it too.
We want Edith to be a part of our daughter's wedding and festivities, but what kind of role should I allow her to have? I'm still angry and very, very hurt. -- MOTHER OF THE BRIDE IN MISSISSIPPI
DEAR MOTHER OF THE BRIDE: Could your mother-in-law have had one too many when she came out with her insensitive and rude revelation? Face it, had she truly wanted to "help," it would have been as simple as her volunteering to do so.
While an apology should be forthcoming, don't expect one. In labeling you "too sensitive," Edith was blaming the person whose face she had slapped for reacting.
While your wish to have her be a part of your daughter's wedding is laudable, the role I strongly recommend she play would be a nonspeaking one such as providing "something old, something new, something borrowed or something blue." PERIOD.
DEAR ABBY: My older brother, "Gabe," 51, lives in another state. He calls me and my other brother often, asking our advice and opinions on everything -- work, parenting and his relationships. His current relationship is like all the others have been. He either picks the wrong person or he IS the wrong person.
What concerns me is that after torturing my brother and me for hours at a time, Gabe then calls our 70-year-old mother. He subjects her to long, circular conversations and never takes any of our advice.
Despite our requests for him to stop burdening us all, especially Mom, Gabe persists. Mom is losing sleep, and she's very upset because Gabe is unhappy and because he talks to her long into the night. She doesn't want to hurt his feelings, but she's reached her limit.
Gabe sought professional help a few years ago, when he was having the same problem with a different woman. After three years of therapy his therapist -- a priest -- refused to treat him because it seemed like Gabe wasn't listening.
What can Mom do to get some peace but spare his feelings? I believe my brother has an emotional disorder, but he refuses to get help or take medication. -- OVERWHELMED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR OVERWHELMED: Gabe may indeed have an emotional problem. He may also be self-centered and in love with the sound of his own voice.
You and your brother need to impress upon your mother that her health must come first. And she needs to impress upon Gabe that her bedtime is (blank) p.m. and she will not stay up beyond that time. If necessary, she should unplug her phone to make sure her sleep isn't interrupted.
As long as Gabe has you, your brother and your mother to drain to the point of exhaustion, I hope you realize he won't seek the professional help he needs, so all of you need to finally draw the line.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)