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A Bad Move

Direct Answers - Column for the week of April 7, 2003

My husband is a wonderful man, we are in our thirties, well-educated and fairly affluent. However, his mother has been a stumbling block in our relationship from the start.

While we dated, I thought I would surprise him on his birthday with dinner at a swanky restaurant and a movie. I dolled up in a black velvet dress, hair and make-up just right, and he was dressed up, too. Before leaving, he asked to stop off and check on his mother. She was in a sweat suit, knit cap, house dress and tennis shoes. She looked like a bag lady.

To make a long story short, she pitched a fit to go with us. I should have figured it out then, but I kept thinking things would change. They haven't. She belittles me and is very demanding of my husband's time. He sees her during his lunch hour, spends 45 minutes each night on the phone with her, and includes her in our weekend errands.

This gal could give a good shrink enough work to buy several Mercedes. Talking to her is out of the question. I could reason with a doorknob more effectively. To make matters worse, we are moving next door to his parent's home and adopting our first child in a few months.

I feel myself becoming more distant from my husband. I'm thinking about throwing myself into my small business, becoming more involved in the community, and doing church activities to carve out a life for myself away from him and his mother.


Monique, you're moving next door? Did you have a say in this? That can only give you more of what you didn't want in the first place. If she is bad now, wait until your mother-in-law has her son's child nearby.

Dealing with this woman is like a deep-sea fisherman playing a large fish. You need to keep a constant drag on the reel and never permit slack in the line. Without your husband's help, it will be impossible.

It is time to tell your husband to choose between you and your child, and his mommy. In choosing you, he can have you and his mom--his mom within reason and you completely. In choosing his mom, that is all he will ever have because she does not want him to have anyone else.


Bare Bones

My in-laws live 20 yards away. My mother-in-law is in our home every single day. Last Sunday while the children were away, my mother-in-law walked in the door, found my husband walking around nude, and they had a great laugh. She stayed for an hour drinking wine. She knew what she walked into because I told her why we sent the children out.

I begged my husband to move away three years ago. He said for the first time in his life his parents have finally accepted him, so how could he leave? As you can imagine, his parents managed to take away a huge trust fund his grandfather left him.

I support the family, and my mother-in-law says this is how it should be. She says, "The working class has always supported the aristocracy." I am exhausted and feel fat and ugly, though I am not. I realize there is not much you can say other than think of yourself and your children, and get out.


Adeline, in Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea," an old fisherman catches a huge fish and lashes it to the side of his skiff. As he sails home, sharks attack and tear off great chunks of flesh. He is powerless to prevent it. By the time he reaches port, there is nothing left of his great fish but the head, bill, and backbone.

Life with an emotionally dependent husband gives you only the skeleton of marriage without the substance of marriage.


About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email:

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