DEAR ABBY: After reading her letter about her mother-in-law, I have heartfelt sympathy for "Charlotte in North Carolina." However, I think that your advice that she should start looking for another man for her mother-in-law was unrealistic. The chances of her finding a man who would put up with a witch like her mother-in-law are pretty slim. I have the same mother-in-law problem, so here's my advice to Charlotte:
Your mother-in-law will never accept you, understand you or listen to you, so don't hold your breath waiting for her to see the light. If she's anything like mine, she uses guilt like a master manipulator. She'll turn on the tears or spout outright lies to get her way.
Tearing your family apart for her own selfish needs is heartless. However, as much as you want to blame your mother-in-law, your husband is the one to blame. Only he can put "Mommie Dearest" in her place.
At first, my husband thought I was too sensitive to his mother's indirect insults. However, once he took notice of them, he began to understand my feelings.
Charlotte, discuss your mother-in-law's comments with your husband while they're still fresh. Point out situations where she's interfering with family time. Always remember that she's his mother and the children's grandmother, and she deserves respect even when you don't get hers in return. You can learn to play the game.
Granted, you'll never get rid of the old battle-ax, but it helps if your husband is on your side to counter her attacks. Perhaps one day she'll get the hint and get a life of her own. -- KEEPING THE PEACE, TERRE HAUTE, IND.
DEAR KEEPING THE PEACE: I am printing your letter in its entirety with the hope that it will provide a blueprint for "Charlotte" to follow. I can think of few relationships as emotionally charged as those between daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law.
P.S. I'm one of the lucky ones. I love my mother-in-law! Rose Phillips, take a bow.