DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for 20 years. He adopted my oldest son, and we have three kids together. All of our children are loved and accepted by his extended family; my in-laws refer to me as their daughter.
Everything is fine with the exception of my husband's brother "Todd" and his wife, "Pearl." Mostly it's Pearl. Todd goes along with her because he's a good husband.
Abby, Pearl hates me. She literally hates me. After many years of strange rules placed on us regarding them and their children, the ugly truth came out six months ago. They wish we had never gotten married, and do not agree with or accept our marriage and children. With no further explanation, their relationship with us is over. Not only with us, but the rest of the family as well!
My head tells me it's their problem, but my heart is heavy. We are all grieving, but seeing my in-laws' heartache when we visit with or talk to them makes me feel guilty. What do I do to get over this and not feel responsible for their actions? -- FEELING GUILTY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: If Pearl and Todd have estranged themselves from the entire family, remember that this is their problem. If they are happier going their own way, you must allow them to continue on their chosen path.
While I'm sure it's painful to see your in-laws grieve, you are not responsible for anyone else's actions, so stop torturing yourself with guilt. Continue being the loving, supportive daughter-in-law and wife you have always been. Stay busy and involved with your own life. There is probably more to this than you have put in your letter, but the person with the problem is your sister-in-law. If you continue to internalize it, you are making a mistake.