DEAR ABBY: I had to write after reading the letter from "Hurt in Adams Center, N.Y.," the woman whose future mother-in-law is abusive to her because she thinks "Hurt" is "stealing her son away."
Please tell her to run, don't walk, to the nearest therapist and take her fiance with her -- and if therapy doesn't fix things, to please, please, not marry this man. I was once married to such a man and an almost identical set of parents. I was wife No. 2 -- we had both been married before -- and I quickly found out what had happened to his first marriage. His mother didn't want other women around her adored son; this included his daughter from the first marriage. And she was not nice to my children either because she felt "disloyal" to the real grandchild.
My husband simply would not or could not stand up for his bride over the craziness of his parents. The mother walked closely past me in the hall one time and punched me in the stomach as hard as she could. When I let out a howl of protest, this goofy woman actually said she hadn't done such a thing; this was just another example of my trying to cause trouble! She had a way of "needing" his help urgently when she knew something was going on at our house and, every time, my husband would walk out on me to take care of this manipulative woman, his mother.
Again, run, don't walk, to a therapist. Remember, these are the people who raised the fiance to be the person he is. He's been yanked around and manipulated by them all his life -- and there could easily be trouble ahead. -- CRAZY LADY'S FORMER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
DEAR FORMER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: That's good advice, providing the couple will heed it. If it doesn't help them deal with the problem, at least it will help them gain insight. I have a stack of letters 6 inches high from women who have experienced the same problem. Every single one said to break the engagement and run like the devil. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Please tell "Hurt in Adams Center" to put on her running shoes and exit that relationship as soon as possible. My ex-in-laws didn't approve of me, either.
At the wedding and reception they refused to be in any photograph that I was in. (How many wedding pictures have you seen without the bride?) My former mother-in-law called friends of mine and told them what an awful wife she thought I was, and my husband refused to intercede because he was sure everything would get better once children arrived.
After 18 months of this abuse, I got a divorce. I am now very happily married to someone else, and his mother and I get along just fine. -- DIXIE DARLING
DEAR DIXIE DARLING: I advised "Hurt" that her fiance and his mother were still attached by an emotional umbilical cord, and the only person who could successfully sever it was her fiance -- by making it clear to his mother that he expected his future wife to be treated with courtesy and respect.
To that I will add: If he is unable to do that, then she must read the handwriting on the wall. Better a broken engagement than a bitter divorce.