Dear Abby: My mother-in-law is contemplating a move to the small Southern town my husband and I have called home for more than 10 years. She’s a vibrant, well-to-do Southern lady with many friends and family in the big city where she has lived her entire life. The problem is, I really don’t want her to live near us. We have five children whom she constantly tries to tell me how to raise, and I’m not sure she even likes the children.
I don’t know why she wants to make this drastic move because she ridiculed us when we relocated. For that matter, she ridicules us about everything we do. (We are relatively normal, boring people.) My husband has stayed quiet about the situation.
How can I tell her we would prefer she stay in the big city without hurting her feelings? We visit her often, and she visits us. This arrangement has worked for many years.
— Loving our Quiet Way of Life
Dear Loving: What exactly do you mean when you say your husband has stayed quiet about this whole situation? Do you know what is driving your mother-in-law’s decision to move closer? Could she be concerned about her age and her health, and feel insecure being so far from “family”?
If it’s not a health problem, then you and your husband are going to have to speak up. Your mother-in-law should be told that the two of you do not agree with her parenting advice, that you feel she has ridiculed you and your husband for years, and you would prefer that she remain where she is. And if she makes the move anyway — which she may — keep your distance.
Dear Abby: My twin sister and I are roommates. Although we usually get along well, she does one thing in particular that bothers me. When she goes out on a date (or home) with a guy she doesn’t want me to know about, she lies. She’ll tell me she’s at a happy hour, a friend’s house or still at work. I realize she doesn’t have to tell me where she is 24/7, but I hate being lied to.
It scares and upsets me when midnight rolls around on a weeknight, she still hasn’t returned from her “happy hour,” and won’t answer my texts or calls. I have told her numerous times that for safety reasons I wish she’d be honest and let me know where she’s going and whom she’s with. She accuses me of trying to pry into her personal life. How can I get her to see my side?
— Two Sides in Virginia
Dear Two Sides: People who keep secrets often have something to hide. If your sister were proud of what she’s doing (and the men she is with), she wouldn’t be so secretive. You can’t force her to level with you. And because of that, it might lower the stress in your life if the two of you make other living arrangements.
Dear Abby: My husband has lost a significant amount of weight over a very short period of time. He isn’t on drugs and eats well. I have begged him to see a doctor. He has come up with a variety of excuses and reasons why he has lost the weight. First it was because he was stressed at work. Then it was because he was stressed at home. Now, he says he just needs to eat and exercise more, but he’s “SOOO busy,” but he’ll start eventually.
It has become a problem for several reasons. One, all the church ladies have concluded that I don’t cook at home (which I do). Two, he looks so ill and malnourished that people are asking me if he is on drugs (he has been tested at work, and this is not the case). Three, friends and family are deeply concerned but scared to approach him about his health because he swears he feels fine and is actually doing wonderfully.
Abby, I love my husband. He’s a good man, although he can sometimes be stubborn and closed-minded. I’m terrified that he’s dying of cancer and he’s going to leave me a single mom. I can no longer discuss the subject of weight with him because he gets extremely defensive and says I should just give him time to get back to how he was. How long do I give him? It has been 10 months. I’m afraid if this goes on any longer, it will put a strain on our relationship that won’t be easily fixed by just talking it out.
— Alarmed in Louisiana
Dear Alarmed: Some people foolishly avoid going to the doctor because they are afraid of what they will hear. You SHOULD be alarmed because your husband’s sudden, unexplained, prolonged weight loss can be a symptom of a life-threatening illness.
This is not a question of how or how well you cook (bless those church ladies!), or whether your husband is on drugs. It is a question of you alerting his doctor, explaining what’s going on and possibly saving his life. If he won’t listen to reason, put it in terms of him being alive long enough to see his child/children into adulthood. But if he still won’t listen to reason, then all you can do is make sure his affairs are in order in case the worst happens.