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by Abigail Van Buren

In Laws' Bad Attitude Tests Limits of Woman's Tolerance

DEAR ABBY: How does one live peacefully and get along with one's in-laws? I understand that everyone has different ideas, morals, etc., and I feel we should all try to respect one another's differences. However, my in-laws make it extremely difficult to spend time with them.

How does one eat at the same table with people who eat with their faces an inch from their plates and chew with their mouths open? How does one tolerate their complaining about everything and everyone? How does one coexist with people who think they're perfect and the rest of the world is flawed?

I thought about giving them an etiquette book as a gift, but my spouse told me not to waste the money. -- BITING MY TONGUE IN ST. PAUL, MINN.

DEAR BITING: An etiquette book would help only people who recognize they needed to consult one. The way to deal with your in-laws is, first, to remember they did one thing right: They produced your husband.

Because their table manners offend you, visit with them after mealtime whenever possible. If you can't avoid it, keep your eyes on your own plate. When they complain, respond with something positive or tactfully redirect the conversation to another subject. When they present themselves as perfect, never disagree -- and see them as infrequently as possible.