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by Abigail Van Buren

In-Laws Demand Too Much Time From Hard-Working Son

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Ed," and I are in our 40s. We both work, and Ed often puts in more than 60 hours a week. My in-laws, in their 60s, are both in good health, retired and well-off financially. They expect weekly gatherings unless they have other plans.

In warmer weather, my mother-in-law guilt-trips Ed into performing weekly chores such as painting, gardening, window washing, etc. These take more than six hours on Sundays, in addition to dinner.

My in-laws also insist on yearly family vacations. Because of this we have little time alone with our teens or each other. I don't think all these gatherings should be mandatory. Please help. This is hurting our marriage. -- HIGHLY STRESSED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR HIGHLY STRESSED: During one of those mandatory family visits, you and your husband should tell his parents what you have told me. Unless you explain to them that they have you on a schedule that doesn't permit you to spend alone time with your children or each other, they won't get it.

Family get-togethers are supposed to be pleasant for all, not mandatory. And if your in-laws can afford the expense, they should hire a handyman to help them and not impose upon their son.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce