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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother in Law's Nightly Calls Invade Couple's Private Time

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 14 years. During that time her mother has called every single day.

Initially, I was OK with it because we were living in Florida and she was in Iowa. However, since we moved back to Iowa to be near her (we live three miles apart), she continues to call nightly. Sometimes she'll call during dinner or during our "couple's time" after the kids are asleep. I have expressed my dissatisfaction with this, particularly because my wife and MIL see each other and talk throughout the day.

Am I out of line to ask for family/couple time during which no outside calls come in, or am I being unreasonable? This is a touchy subject, and I don't know how to resolve it to everyone's satisfaction. -- BOTHERED IN THE HAWKEYE STATE

DEAR BOTHERED: With whom is this a touchy subject? Your wife? Her mother? The two of them? Considering that your mother-in-law lives close by and that she and your wife talk during the day, they appear to be excessively dependent upon each other.

As a partner in your marriage, you have the right to a quiet family dinner and private time with your spouse. If your wife can't bring herself to get that message across to her mother, then you should set a time after which "Mama" should refrain from calling unless it's an emergency.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce | Etiquette & Ethics