I have overbearing in-laws who refuse to let their children, all of whom are in their 40s, live their own lives. We are constantly forced to spend time with them by means of manipulation. We have all been under their thumbs for so long that when the opportunity presented itself for our family to start a new life in a different state, we jumped at the chance.
We're now in the process of moving and becoming our own family. We are thrilled with the thought of seeing everyone on our terms, not having to worry about splitting holidays, feeling obligated on Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, etc. - just finally breaking away and gaining our independence.
Here's the kicker: His parents have just told us they are going to purchase a "vacation" home in the state where we are moving! My husband doesn't have the heart to tell them it's not a good idea, so now I'm having second thoughts about going.
I am beside myself. Will it never end? I understand parents loving their children, but isn't there a time when you just let them grow up and have their own lives? I desperately need advice!
- Ready to Explode in the Rockies
DEAR READY: Yes, it appears you do. Now that you realize that putting geographic distance between you and your in-laws isn't going to solve your problem, you and their son are going to have to learn how to tactfully draw the line and just say no.
I don't know how long you have been married, but the two of you should have set boundaries and declared some independence years ago. Running away from this problem was never the answer. I'm sure your in-laws love you, but developing your own family traditions is neither disrespectful of their feelings nor a personal rejection - it's healthy. And that's what I recommend you do.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Roger," a wonderful man, for about a year. Our relationship has been stressful at times, but overall we're happy together and in love. My problem is his dog, "Lucky." Lucky is a one-man dog who barely tolerates my presence.
Anytime I hug or kiss Roger in front of Lucky, the dog starts barking and growling. Sometimes Roger puts him outside or locks the door so we can be alone together, but he says doing so makes him feel guilty because Lucky "worships him" and wants to be wherever he is.
Lucky doesn't like me around, and I'm uncomfortable around him. Roger knows it and still insists that the dog be wherever he is, even when it means we can't be "romantic" because of all the barking. He sees nothing wrong with Lucky's behavior. I think it's aberrant. Any ideas?
- Dog's a Damper, Bowie, Md.
DEAR DOG'S A DAMPER: Yes. I think Roger's behavior is aberrant. If he loves you, he should be willing to consult an animal behavior specialist for help in re-educating his dog and curbing his dog's aggression. As it stands, Lucky is a danger to you and anyone else who might enter his territory. Unless Roger is willing to act, you and he not only will have no privacy, you have no future. *
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.