Abby: Man’s devotion to mom spoils wife’s travel plans

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I have been married to my husband for 38 years. We both had long professional careers and saved diligently for our retirement. Our children are on their own and doing well with their careers.

My husband retired six years ago. His daily routine is visiting his mother (every day) in an assisted living facility. It is an expensive place, and they take great care of her. I have just retired. I waited to do it until I was 67, thinking we could start to travel (not move).

My husband has now informed me he doesn’t want to go on any two- to three-week vacations because of his mother. He says he needs to see her every day. Abby, the woman is 98 and going strong! There’s nothing wrong with her except for some forgetfulness.

I don’t understand why he feels he “needs” to see her every day. When I try to question him, he gets angry and upset. He makes me feel like I’m the mean one. This is ruining our marriage. I’m not sure what I can do (if anything) to fix it. Help!

Ranked Second

In The Midwest

Dear Ranked Second: When a man marries, his wife is supposed to take precedence over his mother. However, because your husband “needs” to do this, you cannot be perceived as standing in his way, which will cause further resentment. His motive may be devotion. It could also be a feeling he could have been a better son in years past.

I find it hard to believe no one else could check in on your mother-in-law for the two weeks your husband would be away. (It could be one of your children, a sibling, another relative or a trusted friend.)

Rather than allow this to affect your marriage, why not consider creating a Plan B? Schedule some trips for yourself. While you’re away, send him lovely postcards with upbeat messages from the places you visit. When you get back, if he mentions he missed you, assure him you missed him too, but you understand right now his mother is his first priority.

Then tell him that while no one has a contract with God, “with luck” the two of you will have some nice trips together after “Mom” is gone. Provided, of course, that he still wants to travel after her death.

Dear Abby: I am getting married soon to the best guy ever, and I couldn’t be more excited. My older sister is my maid of honor, and she has been doing an amazing job with the planning of my bachelorette party, showers, etc.

Two years ago, my sister was engaged to a man named “Sean.” Six months before their wedding, Sean broke the engagement without warning, and along with it, my sister’s and my family’s hearts. About a month ago, they decided to get back together and are trying to make things work.

My fiance and I have decided not to invite Sean to our wedding. We believe it’s too soon for him to be around the family, but more importantly, we don’t think our wedding day is an appropriate time for him to be “re-introduced.”

Is it selfish to exclude him from our nuptials? How should we tell my sister?

Selfish In The West

Dear Selfish: I’m glad you asked. While it’s your right as the bride to exclude whomever you choose, it would be selfish and I strongly advise you — for the sake of future family harmony — not to do this. Your sister has been doing everything she can to make this milestone event in your life wonderful.

To exclude Sean would be a poor way to thank her for her efforts.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.