Dear Annie: I have a wonderful husband and a problem that started when we married last year.
We had a destination wedding. My husband’s stepfather paid for the immediate family to stay at a beautiful rental house. My brother’s ex, “Martha,” surprised us by coming, and she brought her daughter, along with a friend and her 3-year-old. The next day, Martha and her friend had to check out of their hotel hours before the wedding and simply assumed they would hang around the rental house until then. This was not OK.
Martha never asks permission. She and her friend left the toddler at the house while they went to get food and then came back with nothing for the child, so she went into the kitchen and made him a sandwich from our supplies. I can understand my mother-in-law being upset, but she overreacted and blew up at Martha. They argued, and Martha left and didn’t attend the wedding.
Although my mom understands how Martha can annoy people, she shut herself off from then on. She didn’t help me into my dress, paid no attention during the wedding and spoke to no one. After the wedding, we had a small reception at the house, and she locked herself in our room. I was devastated.
My husband’s mother apologized profusely to my mother after the incident, but Mom refuses to get over it. She won’t come to family gatherings when my in-laws are present. She missed our son’s first birthday party.
I have tried to broker a truce, and I’ve told my mother I will no longer listen when she says negative things about my mother-in-law. The end result is that she avoids the subject and nothing is resolved. Please help.
— Stressed Newlywed
Dear Stressed: Your mother is being childish and purposely hanging onto this grudge. We think she is jealous of your in-laws and hopes her petulance will make you more attentive. It’s working. You are expending a great deal of energy on this situation. Stop. Tell Mom the subject is closed and if she chooses to lose out on family time, that is her decision, and you will no longer try to convince her otherwise.
Dear Annie: I need some advice on how to handle put-downs from my wife’s friends. It started when our nosy neighbor saw my wife beat me in a wrestling match. Now the neighbor makes remarks about my getting beat up by a woman.
My wife refuses to come to my defense and says I have to deal with this woman myself. How do I deal with these gossipy bullies?
Dear Vince: It might help if you make yourself less of an easy target. You allow this neighbor to discombobulate you. Ignore her, or laugh it off. Her opinions are unimportant. But tell your wife that you expect her to stick up for you when her friends insult you, because she would certainly want you to do the same.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Questioning in California,” who is converting to Judaism and whose friends are not supportive of her new kosher eating habits.
I’m not Jewish, but my husband is. For the past seven years, we have kept a strictly kosher kitchen. I recommend she learn how to make some tasty, unconventional kosher dishes and invite her friends over. I make an amazing Southwestern quesadilla and Kung Pao chicken. My husband makes gourmet pizza. We host every Thanksgiving and serve a traditional (kosher) turkey with all the trimmings.
With all this good food around, our friends and family adjusted quickly, and some of them even use our recipes. The lactose intolerant are always glad to know that many dishes served in our house are completely dairy free. In fact, I recommend kosher cookbooks to anyone who is lactose intolerant.
— Kosher in California
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