DEAR ABBY: For 15 years, my marriage and family were fairly normal. Then we moved back to be near my in-laws and help while my father-in-law was ill. Two years ago, he died. And I have now lost my husband (I'll call him Jack) -- to his mother! He has become mama's little boy again.
My mother-in-law is an energetic, bright and creative woman. Even when we lived far away, she tried to run his life, and that of our family. Now that we live nearby, she completely runs and ruins everything. She buys the attention of our children with things that we can't afford and really prefer they not have. She has time to cook elaborate meals, take the kids on trips, etc. She criticizes my cooking, my housekeeping, the way we discipline the children -- everything. And my husband, though he can manage a corporation, has never been able to stand up to his mother.
Almost every night she has something "new" to show one of the children. Every night she has some little chore for Jack to do. On weekends, she has already made plans for herself, my husband and the children. She makes it abundantly clear that I am not welcome to participate. I have suggested counseling for us, or at least talking to our pastor. Since his mother doesn't like our pastor, that got shot down.
If I were to leave Jack, it would be my fault, of course. Abby, what does one do when the "other woman" is a man's mother? -- CHARLOTTE IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR CHARLOTTE: If I were you, the first thing I'd do is start looking for another man -- for your mother-in-law! With all that energy, she needs an outlet other than her son and grandchildren.