Ask Amy

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 12:00am

DEAR AMY: I will be getting married to a wonderful man in a few months.

My future mother-in-law never had any problems with me while my fiance and I were dating, but now that we are getting married, she refuses to give her blessing until she meets my family.

My father passed away when I was 8, but my mother is alive.

She married a monster when I was 12. He sexually abused me, and my mother turned a blind eye to it and disowned me when I was 16, claiming I seduced him.

My future mother-in-law has stated that she will meet my mother one way or another and things would "go a lot smoother if (I) just cooperated."

I do not have a relationship with any of my biological family, and that is a painful reality I have to live with.

My fiance has been unable to convince his mother that it is a bad idea, so I'm at a loss.

I am terrified that seeing my mother again will set me back psychologically.

What can I do?

— Frustrated Fiancee

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your future mother-in-law sounds like a menace.

"Things will go a lot smoother if you cooperate" is what the cops on "Law and Order" say, just before they go ballistic.

When faced with a threat like that, the best response is to ask, "Really? Can you explain exactly what you're saying?"

Forcing this bully to articulate her intentions might compel her to back off. It will also establish that you are calm, collected and not intimidated.

If you feel you have explained your history and feelings adequately, then the only thing you can do is to defend yourself by resisting her pressure.

In short, call her bluff, refuse to cooperate, and don't pursue her "blessing."

You have some very big decisions to make. If you and your fiance can't handle his mother well enough to insist that she respect you, then you two should think seriously about how to proceed with your plans. The last thing you need is another abusive woman in your life.


DEAR AMY: I have three grown children, 28, 24 and 22.

One child is adopted and has decided, after finding her half-siblings, that she no longer wants to be a part of our family.

My middle child is a drug addict and a liar. He has been in and out of jail and drug rehab.

My oldest is doing OK and is married, but he has no empathy for others and does not visit any family.

I was married to their father for 18 years, and he is a sociopath and alcoholic who really did not play a part in raising them.

My question is, Am I to blame for my adult children's behavior?

I am heartbroken that they have turned out like this.

I tried to be the best mother I could be and was there for my children. I have had years of counseling over this, but the pain continues.

— Disappointed Mother

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Your children are adults. They are responsible for their behavior and for tackling their problems.

You are responsible for dealing with your own problems, however, and that means you must come to terms with your own choices, including the behavior you modeled for your children when they were young.

For all of us, the story of our lives is partially written during our childhood — the fact that all of your kids are keeping their distance from you is a reflection of the challenges they faced as children. Obviously, their father has left them with a terrible legacy. Continue with counseling as a way to understand your own history. You might then be able to help your children to heal from theirs.


DEAR AMY:
I have no moral objection to wedding couples registering for their honeymoon, but I was appalled recently to discover that the registry took 7.5 percent off the top.

So I gave the couple a check, which allows them to use the money for the honeymoon or for something else if they like.

— Informed Guest

DEAR INFORMED: Way to do your homework! Well done.

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Filed under: Lifestyles