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Gift Horse Should Be Put Out To Pasture

DEAR ABBY: I don't know what to do about my mother-in-law's unwelcome involvement in my home. She goes behind my back to rearrange furniture, buy decor "gifts" and take care of chores (often making things worse). Yesterday, I came home to find my dishes and silverware had been moved, new rugs and pillows in my living room, and my bedroom nightstand had been replaced!

I have asked her to please talk with me first, and have asked her to stop altogether. My husband stands with me, but she keeps doing it. I don't want to ban her from our home; my husband is her only child. Is there anything else we can do? -- HURT IN SANTA ANA

DEAR HURT: Your mother-in-law isn't trying to be helpful; she's trying to be the dominant female in your home. Stop "asking" and tell her to quit the accessorizing and rearranging because her efforts are not helpful and they are making you angry. Then collect the pillows, the nightstand, etc., and return them to her or donate them to a thrift shop. If she has a key to your house, get it back. She should also not be allowed in your house unless she's supervised.

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