WITCHES, WANDERERS AND WEDDINGS
I’m not sure how to handle my mother in law. She’s opinionated, demanding, obtrusive and a nuisance when she’s around. The other night my husband and I had a mixed crowd over and she proceeded to tell everyone how my potato salad wasn’t as good as hers and furthermore, that it probably would never be. “Some people just have it when it comes to cooking,” is what she told everybody. I found myself apologizing for the food I served even though nobody else seemed to complain and there were no leftovers to be had.
Help! Help! HELP!
Clarisa in Madison Wisconsin
Dear Swallowed Whole by the Monster-in-Law:
Reprimanding mama should really be the domain of your hubby. However, since you left any reference to your man out of your question I’ll assume he did nothing to stop the onslaught of maternal abuse and guilt. Ergo, your husband’s still a little boy, rather than a man, when it comes to his own mother. He’s seeking her satisfaction and her favor. Poor you.
Yep, I concur. Your mother-in-law has overstepped her bounds. She needs to be put in her place and fast, so that you can stop stressing over her misperceived inadequacies about you with regard to the proper care and feeding of her little boy.
I am a firm believer in never dwelling on the past. To be clear – it’s okay to look back in reflection from time to time, but those reflections should primarily be focused on the more pleasurable moments and memories of your life and NOT on the mistakes you’ve made.
Still, I think you made a big one at the party. You should NOT have apologized for the food you served, particularly if the dishes that were returned were empty and there were no leftovers. Clearly, others thought enough of your culinary skills to devour every morsel on their plates!
Since we can’t go back to the party, perhaps we can use it as an example to prepare you for the next time this demonic Julia Childs decides to shish ka -barb and skewer her comments in your direction.
First, let’s assume for a moment that this maleficent Martha Stewart was right – your potato salad wasn’t as good as hers…so what? It wasn’t bad either. It also wasn’t spoiled or otherwise not fit to eat. Perhaps in using the term ‘not as good’ your mother-in-law merely meant that your potato salad differed from hers. Okay, I’ll bet the two of you don’t make identical anything. So, what was her point? Clearly, to embarrass you in front of your guests.
Shame on her!
Shame on your husband too, for not sticking up for you and your potato salad!
Bottom line: your mother-in-law may not see you as a lesser when it comes to looking after her child. She may simply be jealous. She needs a challenge to put her in her place and I want you to give it to her. Just remember, whatever you do or say, it cannot appear on the surface as an ultimatum or you’ll be the one who looks like the evil woman.
So, the next time you hear mom tell your guests that she’s a better cook than you I want you to be polite and unnerved and come back with something like,
“Well, that’s an opinion, isn’t it? Maybe I should take you up on that. After all, you’ve had more years in the kitchen. How about we move into my kitchen? You give me pointers and I’ll give it my best shot.”
The onus will then be on her. Either your husband’s mother will want to ‘straighten you out’ in the kitchen or she’ll back down from helping you out because you’ve called her bluff. Either way, you’ll have set a precedent when it comes to your cooking: hands off and pass the potato salad.
The Crabby Critic
I think my wife is having an affair with her sister’s husband. We had a barbeque two weeks ago in our backyard with a lot of friends and family. There were several moments throughout the afternoon where I caught them spending what I would argue was ‘unhealthy’ friendly time together.
At one point he was holding her around the waist in the pool and at another moment they were slow dancing together. I heard a friend of a friend comment what a ‘lovely couple’ they made because this person assumed my wife and her sister’s husband were she and me!!! I straightened out that confusion pretty quick!
Anyway, there have been other things going on. Two weeks ago my wife said she was going to her sister’s to just hang out. I went to work. A few hours later I called from work to our house and the babysitter told me that my wife still hadn’t come home so I called her sister’s house and he answered and told me that my wife and he were just watching movies. When I asked how his wife was, he told me she was visiting her mother out of state! Clearly, my wife did not go over to her sister’s to spend time with her!
I made up some story about calling home and finding out that one of our children wasn’t feeling well and asked her to go home and she said she would, but an hour later when I called home again the babysitter was still there. I just hung up.
There’s other curiosities to tell too but I won’t because I know this email is already too long.
Any advice? I’m not sure what’s going on.
Jacob in Wyoming
Dear Totally Confused:
You’re not, really. You’re just in denial. There’s fairly good evidence to suspect your wife based on just these two incidents. She’s spending way too much time with her sister’s man. At the very least, their behavior has been inappropriate. He should not be putting his hands on her person – ANYWHERE – but especially around her bare waist in your swimming pool! Your wife should not be choosing her sister’s man over her children while you’re at work!
The most shocking aspect for me is that the rest of your family and friends – save the one misguided person who thought your wife was dancing with you at your barbeque – seem to be utterly nonchalant about accepting the fact. I think, under the circumstances you behaved properly at the barbeque by not interrupting your wife and her sister’s stud. It would have created a scene and who needs it? The less other people are in on their dirty little secret, and the fact that you’re eating your guts over it, the better.
I think you’ve passed the threshold where a good marriage counselor could have made something out of this mishmash. It’s time to consider ending things amicably. The first step; you need to confirm what you already know by confronting your wife about her relationship with her sister’s husband. You also need to find out what her sister thinks about her man slow dancing with her kin. I mean, where was she while all this extracurricular activity was taking place?
I would begin my inquiries with your wife. Make your accusation clear and pointed. Say something like,
“I know what’s been going”
“how much longer did you think I would let this go on?”
The onus is on your wife to deny the allegation and defend herself against it. Because you’ve worded the inquiry in such a way that suggests you have concrete knowledge – rather than just a hunch - your wife will be less likely to start her reply with a cover up because she’ll assume you’ve already reached that point where you’ve accepted the affair.
Worst case scenario: your wife confirms your suspicions and asks for a divorce.
Best case scenario: you’ve been hyperactive over nothing and she hates you for a week.
Personally, I don’t think she will. Bottom line, Jake – their presumed affair is on a need to know basis. You NEED to KNOW, because right now you’re driving yourself insane with assumptions.
The Crabby Critic
My girlfriend is pregnant with our second child and has just informed me that she intends to have a hysterectomy following the birth. When I asked her why she had changed her mind, my girlfriend said she just didn’t feel comfortable bringing more kids into the world when we weren’t married. What a crock! She knew I wanted a big family before we started and now she’s reneging on our deal in the middle of everything. What manipulation! Frankly, I’m more than insulted.
Bob in Chelsea
I’m a little miffed myself – but not for your reasons. Second child and no wedding ring? Why not? If she’s good enough to bed she ought to be good enough to wed – particularly when children are involved.
Do you not realize what you’ve created is an unstable living environment about to become very hostile for two innocent people?
You want a bigger family? I think your significant other wants a white dress. Which one of you is going to win this showdown? Sadly, whoever bends over at this point, your children will be the biggest losers because they will be growing up in a house brimming to the rafters with residual resentment. In my opinion you and your girlfriend both made a colossal mistake. She’s just figured that out. You still haven’t let the ramifications sink beyond that thick skull of yours.
I don’t know what your thoughts were when you pondered creating your own city from scratch, but guess what?
Your woman doesn’t fancy living inside the Von Trapp family commune unless Mr. and Mrs. Von Trapp tie the knot!
Perhaps it took her a little too long to come to that decision but I support her decision completely!
Quid pro quo. You supply that familiar band of gold and your girlfriend may consent to providing you with a few more opportunities to populate the earth with your offspring.
Otherwise, you’ll just move on to some new fertile honey that can fulfill your polygamist fantasy and your current gal pal will get stuck with two illegitimate kids that she’ll struggle to feed, since at the crux of your relationship there never was any real game plan for the future! How tragic for those kids!
You want my advice?
Justice of the peace – tomorrow!
I’ll mail you a bag of rice!
The Crabby Critic