DEAR AMY: I cannot deal with my monster-in-law. She's bossy, antagonistic, and gossips about my personal business far too much. As much as I try to care about her, my dislike for her has been surfacing more and more.
I went on antidepressants as I was planning our wedding and almost called off the wedding twice, partly because of her.
Now, blessedly, I am pregnant, and the only thing I hear from her is how we must name our son (if it's a boy) the family name "Bernie" (he would be the fourth one). Neither my husband nor I want to use this name. But she is adamant that we must, and says that if we do not, then she will still call him "Skipper" — the nickname the family uses for all of the other Bernies in the family. No matter how much I ask her not to, she still insists on it. Not only do I hate that name, but I am beginning to hate her for suggesting it.
I don't know what to do, and the more I get upset, the more my husband and I argue. Although he agrees with me, he will not put his foot down because he hates confrontation.
Please give me some advice!
DEAR ANGRY: Every time your mother-in-law successfully riles you, she ignites a little spark in you. Then you oxygenate the spark by reacting — or fighting with your husband about it — and before you know it you're in flames (and you've made her day).
Rather than allow her to create discord in your marriage, you should focus on removing her access to combustible material.
If discussing your baby's name always leads you down the same path, then stop discussing it. You just say, "Well, we haven't decided on a name; but we know what your preference is." If she wants to call your baby "Skipper," you can say, "You can call the baby anything you want to, though it might be awkward if that isn't her name."
But you also need to be aware that this behavior might get worse after the baby is born. Given that, the person who prescribed antidepressants to you should also refer you to counseling. I suggest you and your husband seriously discuss strategies for drawing and enforcing boundaries.
DEAR AMY: I just got out of a serious relationship.
I've realized how much I compromised to please this woman and how I practically changed myself during the course of our relationship. I over-compromised. I mostly let us do things her way. Then after we broke up, she moved away. She's seeing someone new but she and I are on good terms.
Now I notice that she has changed. She's become more reasonable and more patient. She learned her lesson from our relationship and so have I.
I still have strong feelings for her, and I truly believe that we can make it work this time. However, I don't know if I should chase someone who's no longer in love with me and has moved on.
I really want her back. What should I do?
DEAR CONFLICTED: You say you changed for your ex-girlfriend. Now you say she has changed — presumably to satisfy a dynamic in her current relationship.
You should not chase someone who is no longer in love with you and is seeing someone else. This could be yet more evidence that you are willing to turn yourself inside out to appeal to her.
You could, however, honestly express your feelings, have a conversation about it — and see where it takes you.
DEAR AMY: "Concertgoer" was a 16-year-old whose mother wouldn't let her go to a concert without an adult.
About 20 years ago, my oldest daughter of 16 won two tickets to The Extreme Games many states away. Her mother and I said the only way we'd let her go was if one of us went, too. She and I went for three days and had a wonderful time. It's one of the best memories I have of us spending time together, and I believe she would agree.
— Proud Dad
DEAR PROUD: Some readers didn't like my idea of a "mom date," but I agree with you — these "forced" experiences can yield great memories for everyone.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.