Ask Amy: Mother-in-law’s questions go too deep

He’s not eating healthy? It’s up to me to force-feed him his greens.

He’s not exercising enough? I should dance sexy for him (her words, not mine) to get him moving.

I’m not my husband’s “fixer.” He’s a grown man, and it’s up to him to eat and exercise well.

It’s also a little hurtful that she takes no interest in me other than a, “Hello, how have you been? Now, let’s talk about my son.”

I know it’s wrong, but lately I have been ignoring the inappropriate suggestions and delaying answering her other messages. How should I handle this?

— Not My Husband’s Fixer

Not My Husband’s Fixer: Is your husband in a coma? Has he fallen down a well?

I ask because, unless he is voiceless, he should be talking to his mother about his toileting habits.

I assume your husband is ducking his mother because he is exhausted by these intrusive questions. He’s likely dealt with them for a lifetime. If you asked him, “How do you cope with these questions?” He’d probably answer, “I ignore her, or tell her to talk to you.”

This is a boundary issue. If your husband is in fact alive and nearby, you can tell your mother-in-law, “He’s right here. Let me hand him the phone,” or “I’ll make sure he knows you called,” or simply, “That’s pretty personal. You should ask him!”

Also say, “I know how much you care about how ‘Paul’ is doing, but he’s basically great. He and I are happy, but I’m not really in charge of him.” Then you pivot to ask her a question about how she is and what she is up to. And yes, ignore or delay answering texts you don’t want to answer.

Your mother-in-law will always care more for her son than for you. It’s doubtful that she will ever develop a sincere interest in your life. She may always be an annoying nudge. Be kind, be firm and practice establishing healthy boundaries, and you won’t dread hearing from her quite so much.

Dear Amy: Our oldest daughter and her fiance were planning a wedding for this summer. Due to the pandemic they have decided to reschedule the ceremony for next summer. In actuality they were married more than a year ago in secret, so their “wedding” will be held almost three years after getting married.

The discussion now is whether they should announce that they are married, and if so, how to make the announcement. What is your feeling?

— Perplexed Mom and Pop

Perplexed Mom and Pop: Over the years of writing this column, I’ve been surprised at how often couples get married privately or “secretly,” before they host their weddings — often many months later. I have heard from couples, family members and clergy that this is fairly common and that it shouldn’t pose a problem for others.

However, I believe that honesty about this can prevent misunderstandings, gossip or hard feelings later on.

The couple could say (not on the invitation, but as an addendum): “We were married privately at the courthouse last year, but now we are ready to take vows in front of friends and family in a public ceremony. We hope you will join us.”

Dear Amy: Responding to the question from “Let It Be,” who didn’t want to reach out to his estranged father — boy, could I relate.

I finally forced myself to reach out to the father who had abandoned me, and while I don’t think either of us were completely satisfied with our father/daughter relationship, as you said, “reconciliation is its own reward.”

Our relationship may have been a bit awkward or painful at times, but it was also rewarding. My dad was able to have a “baggage-free” relationship with my daughter that he greatly enjoyed. And for me, that was wonderful to watch.

I’m glad I chose to be the grown-up and reached out.

Grateful Daughter: I had a similar experience with my own father.

2020 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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