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Old problem gets a lot worse

Dear Annie: I have been married to a wonderful man for 35 years and have terrific children and beautiful grandchildren. Our marriage has been great, except for my manipulative and emotionally blackmailing mother-in-law.

Our only fights have stemmed from lies and made-up stories this woman tells. She has destroyed relationships with other family members and blames me for it even when we live miles away. I support my husband in any decision he makes regarding her, and I have never badmouthed her.

She recently pulled the ultimate scheme. Knowing that I had never met my son’s fiancée, my mother-in-law took it upon herself to tell her the “truth” about me. After a three-hour visit with my soon-to-be daughter-in-law and her parents, the poor girl was in tears when our son came home from work. Our son said if he hadn’t known the truth, he would have believed his grandmother. She was very convincing and even brought on fake tears. Our children are now so upset with their grandmother that they do not want her near their kids, planting lies in their minds.

I have tried to be the better person over the years, welcoming my mother-in-law into our home, giving her birthday presents and even planning anniversary parties when none of her other children could or would. But I’m done.

My husband has confronted his mother many times regarding her destructive behavior, but she says he doesn’t see the “real” me. Now I worry that she is trying to come between my husband and his father, who is ill. My mother-in-law doesn’t return our phone calls or tell us when Dad is in the hospital. We hear everything through a third party, sometimes days after it happens. How do I handle this?

— Daughter-Out-Law

Dear Daughter: Perhaps if your husband had set stricter boundaries with more dire consequences years ago, this situation would be better now, but there are no guarantees. Some people are beyond reasoning with. It’s time to step back and let your husband handle his mother. As long as she believes she can control him, she will do so. Your husband should try to get his information about Dad through other sources and bypass Mom whenever possible. It’s terribly sad, but you cannot force her to be a better person. (She sounds mentally ill.)

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Dear Annie: I am a skinny woman with large breasts. I know there is a crazy stereotype that women like me are wild party girls. I’m actually quite conservative. But other women seem to think it’s OK to poke my breasts or lift them, probably to check whether they are real.

Last week at a party, some insufferable girl I just met turned the entire conversation to my breasts. I walked away to cool off, but someone overheard me say that the girl was obnoxious. So “poking girl” started shouting at me, and you can guess how the rest of the night went.

Annie, please tell your readers that just because a woman has large breasts doesn’t mean she wants to be poked and prodded in public. Where have basic social graces gone?

— Staying Classy

Dear Classy: You hang around with some inappropriate, rather creepy women. Your body, all of it, belongs to you. If someone touches your breasts, gasp in horror and perhaps yell loudly for the police. What nerve.

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Dear Annie: Thank you for recommending the NAMI Family-to-Family class to “Parents at Wits’ End.” When I took that 12-week class, I learned so much about mental illness, as well as finding support and hope from other parents. I have no doubt my son is doing better because of it.

— Grateful Mother

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

Special to The Enterprise

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