DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Don," and I have been married for five years. We have two beautiful children, and Don is a terrific father. For the most part, we have a good life together and get along well.
The problem is his sister, "Marsha." Marsha has major boundary issues, and she tries to undermine my role as both mother and wife. Their mother died young, and Marsha took on the role of mother. She still hasn't let go.
When Don and I first began dating, Marsha said some extremely nasty things in an effort to break us up. For example, she said I wasn't his type (right!), that he had been promiscuous in his past (not true), and that I would never know Don as well as she knows him. (She still says it on a regular basis.)
When Don and I have the rare quarrel, he goes running off to Marsha for advice. He also spends time with her on his days off, and they discuss very personal issues in our marriage. Marsha uses this personal information as fodder for gossip and pretends to be our "counselor." Because Don knows it upsets me, he now lies about visiting her or her coming over. I am on the brink of telling him I don't want to see his sister anymore.
Other than our issues with her, our life is wonderful. Any advice regarding a worse-than-mother-in-law sister-in-law? -- SEEING RED IN MINNESOTA
DEAR SEEING RED: An effective counselor is someone who is unbiased. A worse-than-mother-in-law should not be assuming the role of "counselor." Because of her dual role in your husband's life, she should (ethically) disqualify herself.
On some level, your husband must realize that when he runs to his sister, she'll automatically take his side. That's neither a fair nor healthy solution to your problems. Some sessions with a professional marriage counselor could help you resolve your differences. It could also lengthen -- if not sever -- his sibling umbilical cord, and I strongly recommend it.