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by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Devotion to His Mom Spoils Wife's Travel Plans

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for 38 years. We both had long professional careers and saved diligently for our retirement. Our children are on their own and doing well with their careers.

My husband retired six years ago. His daily routine is visiting his mother (every day) in an assisted living facility. It is an expensive place, and they take great care of her. I have just retired. I waited to do it until I was 67, thinking we could start to travel (not move).

My husband has now informed me he doesn't want to go on any two- to three-week vacations because of his mother. He says he needs to see her every day. Abby, the woman is 98 and going strong! There's nothing wrong with her except for some forgetfulness.

I don't understand why he feels he "needs" to see her every day. When I try to question him, he gets angry and upset. He makes me feel like I'm the mean one. This is ruining our marriage. I'm not sure what I can do (if anything) to fix it. Help! -- RANKED SECOND IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR RANKED SECOND: When a man marries, his wife is supposed to take precedence over his mother. However, because your husband "needs" to do this, you cannot be perceived as standing in his way, which will cause further resentment. His motive may be devotion. It could also be a feeling he could have been a better son in years past.

I find it hard to believe no one else could check in on your mother-in-law for the two weeks your husband would be away. (It could be one of your children, a sibling, another relative or a trusted friend.)

Rather than allow this to affect your marriage, why not consider creating a Plan B? Schedule some trips for yourself. While you're away, send him lovely postcards with upbeat messages from the places you visit. When you get back, if he mentions he missed you, assure him you missed him too, but you understand right now his mother is his first priority.

Then tell him that while no one has a contract with God, "with luck" the two of you will have some nice trips together after "Mom" is gone. Provided, of course, that he still wants to travel after her death.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Family & Parenting