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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple's Invitation to Holiday Party Will Not Be in the Mail

DEAR ABBY: I have a mother-in-law-to-be problem, but not the usual one. She doesn't hate me -- in fact, she loves me. She invites me to wine tastings and lunches, lets me drive her sports car, and brings me gifts when she comes to visit.

The problem is, she's nasty to my fiance, so much so that if he ever decided not to speak to her again, I'd stand by him. It hasn't come to that, so I'm stuck sitting silently at dinner while she berates him.

I don't want her to dislike me (especially with the wedding planning coming up), but I really don't like the disrespectful way she mistreats my fiance. What should I do? -- DAUGHTER SHE NEVER HAD

DEAR DAUGHTER: Recognize that this unhealthy dynamic has likely been the status quo since your fiance was a boy, which is why he accepts her verbal abuse. However, after your honeymoon, tell your new husband how upsetting it has been for you to listen to his mother berate him. Suggest that he talk to a licensed therapist to understand why he tolerates it. After that, family counseling may be in order if his mother is willing. If not, spare yourself the pain and see less of her.