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Mother-in-Law Keeps Apron Strings Tight on Son

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law manipulates my husband into lying to me and going behind my back. She is hard on him if he doesn't return her calls promptly, to the point of calling the police and having them come to our home to "make sure his wife hasn't done anything to him."

She throws a tantrum if he calls her back when I'm around. She will speak to him only in private and doesn't want him to tell me about the calls or conversations. (He tells me anyway, although not all the details, which is fine.)

My husband and I feel her demands are destructive to our marriage. Last Thanksgiving was the first time he chose to spend the holiday with me and didn't see his family. It caused an uproar, and now she's giving him the cold shoulder and threatening to leave him out of the will. Help! -- IN-LAW BLUES IN TEXAS

DEAR BLUES: Your husband should not have had to choose between spending Thanksgiving with his wife or his family. There must be a lot more going on in addition to what you have put in your letter.

Be smart. The two of you should talk about this with a licensed marriage and family therapist who can help your husband find ways to cope with his mother's emotional blackmail and threats to disinherit him. Her need to control her son is sick and, I agree, destructive to your marriage. Please don't wait.

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