December 17, 2009 in Features

Try to sweet-talk sour mom-in-law

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar
 

Dear Annie: My husband, “Kevin,” and I have been together 25 years. Our relationship is as wonderful today as on our first date. My mother-in-law, however, hates me. She says I wrecked her only son’s life because I can’t have children. This same woman called her son two days before our wedding and told him to “choose.” Kevin told her, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life with the woman I love. I have nothing more to say to you.” And he hung up.

Now, all these years later, she still treats me like some stranger passing her on the street. When she calls, my husband goes into another room to talk to her, like everything has to be a big secret. Once, I answered his phone, and as soon as I said, “Hello,” she said, “Where is my son?”

What do I do? This affects my husband, I’m sure. We moved across the country to get away from the drama, but it comes back every time she calls. – Troubled

Dear Troubled: Mom continues to behave rudely because she gets away with it. Although your husband is supportive, he takes the path of least resistance when it comes to his mother. With some hard work, you could change this dynamic. Call her often just to chat. Ask about her activities, her friends, her family members. Be solicitous and cheery for 10 minutes, and then say how nice it was to talk to her and goodbye. Do it again within the week. If you keep at it, regardless of her response, she will get used to talking to you and may even look forward to your calls. Otherwise, be grateful you live so far away.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.


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