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.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of two years, "Bobby," is still technically married to -- and living with -- his wife and child. He says he "has" to stay there because his son has learning difficulties and needs his support.
Bobby wants to wait until his son is older and more stable. His wife is a shrew who is just there as a roommate. She knows all about our affair, but she wants to stay married. She says she still loves Bobby even though he no longer loves her.
This triangle is stressful for me and Bobby. Don't you think his wife should wake up and smell the coffee? Bobby and I want to get on with our life together without all of this baggage constantly interfering with your plans. What should we do? -- HIS TRUE LOVE
DEAR TRUE LOVE: The person who should be smelling the coffee isn't Bobby's wife -- it's you. You have invested two years of your life in a man who is as married as one can get. Bobby isn't going anywhere, and the sooner you accept that fact the sooner you can find an eligible man to spend your life with. This may seem hard to accept, but if you don't believe me, just give your "true love" an ultimatum.
DEAR ABBY: Does a woman consider a man's invitation to lunch as the next thing to his asking her to sleep with him? And what do others think about this invitation if the female mentions it to her husband or friends?
One etiquette book said, in effect, "If the lunch is not about business, it's about sex." Pretty severe, I think.
I asked a female co-worker to lunch for purely social reasons, but I have gotten reactions of derision from others about it. Can't a man ask a female to lunch without some sort of negative social reaction? -- LET'S DO LUNCH, MISSOULA, MONT.
DEAR LET'S DO LUNCH: In my book he can. And many do. To ask someone to lunch in the bright sunlight of high noon in a casual restaurant is hardly what I'd call a proposition. And I've never seen an etiquette book that implied that it is. It appears the "others" you have been telling have dirty minds and enjoy razzing you.
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