Dear Abby: Wife unsettled at MIL’s frequent presence at home

Published 10:16 am Friday, September 3, 2021

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for nearly 10 years. I guess I never noticed this while we were dating, but as our marriage has progressed, it’s becoming increasingly apparent he’s a complete “mama’s boy.” He calls her constantly with updates (some I’d prefer she didn’t know about) and invites her over frequently without consulting me.

I have tried to gently express that sometimes it’s a bit much (especially because he tells her things before he tells me), but he becomes defensive and accuses me of not liking her. It doesn’t help that his father died five years ago, leaving her a rather young widow. I feel his protectiveness over her has accelerated because he fears she will be alone too much.

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My mother-in-law is a nice person, but I need my space. After work, I want to come home and spend time with my husband and children without another person always being there. It has reached the point that I’m starting to resent her, and that’s not fair to her. Please help. — CROWDED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR CROWDED: You’re right, it isn’t fair that you are aiming your resentment at your mother-in-law. The person who should be the target of your displeasure is your husband. I assume you have already tried communicating to him the legitimate complaints you listed in your letter. It may require help from a marriage counselor to get him to understand that you don’t dislike his mother, but that certain things between a husband and wife should remain private. Yes, she is his mother, but common courtesy would dictate that the two of you agree about how often you will come home after a hard day’s work to find her sitting there.


DEAR ABBY: I’ve been married for more than 30 years. Our marriage isn’t wonderful, but it’s better than most. I love my husband, but I’m not sure I am “in love” with him. I have had an off-and-on friendship with my ex-boyfriend for the past 40 years. We’re not intimate — just friends. We meet occasionally for coffee or dinner to talk. He is divorced.

Logically, I know he isn’t the right one, but my heart still feels strongly for him. This in spite of a 20-year gap when we didn’t see or hear from each other. I ran into him three years ago and we started talking, but a year went by before we saw each other again. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get him out of my heart. He says he will always love me, but I don’t think he means “in love.”

He has been with someone for five years whom he cares for and is thinking of marrying because he is getting older and wants the companionship. He claims not to be in love with her. I hurt when I don’t hear from him regularly. My heart aches when I think about not having him in my life at all. How do I get over him? — EMOTIONALLY INVESTED

DEAR INVESTED: Wake up and accept that if your ex-boyfriend were in love with you, he would have demonstrated it by now. He appears to be very comfortable with the companion he’s involved with — regardless of the fact he says he isn’t in love with her, either. A surefire way to get over this lingering crush would be to start counting the many blessings you have with your husband of 30 years, and if there is something “missing,” begin a dialogue and work to improve it.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


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