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by Abigail Van Buren

In-Laws' Public Scorn Chips Away at Man's Confidence

DEAR ABBY: I have a great marriage to an amazing woman. We have beautiful kids and are really happy together. The issue, however, is my in-laws. We are complete opposites in personality and certain views.

I know everyone has different opinions and I respect that. The problem is, they belittle my opinions, job, hobbies and habits. I have been with my wife since high school, and they have never liked me. Lately, the problems have gotten worse.

I am educated, have a good job and take care of my family. But every chance my in-laws get, they make negative comments to me, and in front of others. My friends have called them beyond cruel. My feelings are constantly hurt, and I have begun to feel negatively about myself. My wife doesn't see a problem and says that's just how they are.

I have stood up for myself. When I did, my father-in-law proceeded to threaten me with physical violence. It is worse when they drink, which is usually when we see them, but the insults are there regardless. I am scared my kids will see how they treat me and think it is OK to do so. I used to be a confident man who would defend myself, but because they are family, I usually take it.

I am at my breaking point, and my marriage is beginning to suffer because my wife refuses to support me. She also keeps inviting us to their house for gatherings. I tell her I don't want to go, but she says to let things go. I don't know how. Please help. -- STRESSED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR STRESSED: I fail to see how a couple can be happy under these circumstances. That a wife would tolerate her parents' abuse of her husband is shameful. However, that does not mean you must allow it to continue. Dig deep and resurrect the confident man you once were. Tell your wife you will no longer visit the in-laws unless you receive an apology from them and they agree to remain sober while you're there. And because you have reason to believe you'll be disrespected in front of your children -- or it will happen behind your back -- make other plans for them and for yourself while your wife visits her folks.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce