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Abby: Mom finds it hard to watch son in new marriage

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: Our youngest son recently married a woman who has an 18-year-old disabled daughter, “Lauren.” The girl’s mental level is between that of a 2- and 4-year-old. There have been physical confrontations between my new daughter-in-law and her disabled daughter, which are becoming more frequent now that they all live together. Our daughter-in-law refuses to pursue facilities for Lauren, saying she is waiting for her to be transitioned into a group home and feels much guilt in doing so.

Lauren is currently in a day program, which doesn’t seem to be helping her. She has definite behavioral issues and has been put on a higher level of meds that haven’t helped. Psychologists, counselors and school staff are noncommittal about offering any help and haven’t advised on how to address this.

My concern is, my son and his wife now have a 6-month-old son, and I worry about the baby in this home environment. Our son loves his wife and thought he could handle the challenges that come with living with Lauren. He now says he thinks it is best to end the marriage, but he’s uncomfortable about giving an ultimatum to his wife. He has a high-pressure job, and his new home environment is taking a toll on him, physically and mentally. Any advice for him is appreciated.

Mom On The Sidelines

Dear Mom: I appreciate your concern for the well-being of your son, but if you are smart, you will remain supportively on the sidelines and not insert yourself into this sensitive situation. If your son feels so pressured he’s considering ending his marriage, he should be telling his wife about it and not his mother.

Dear Abby: My husband and my mother had a good relationship before we were married. But since our wedding two years ago, he complains about her nonstop while pointing out ways that I am like her. My brothers feed into it, too. They often have long conversations together detailing her “many” negative qualities.

Recently, while we were visiting my parents’ home, Mom overheard my husband say critical things about her. She got upset and shut down emotionally and socially for the rest of the visit. We both apologized to her separately, but she said she was tired of being criticized and tired of him being mean to me, as well.

I have a history of depression. My husband and I have tried counseling multiple times, with no progress because he feels our problems are “my responsibility.” My husband is a good person, but it hurts me to see my mother upset and to have the two most important people in my life so at odds. Advice?

Torn in Nebraska

Dear Torn: I’m glad to offer some, but first you will have to accept that “good” husbands don’t act like yours does. If there are things he doesn’t like about your mother, he should take them up with her directly, not behind her back the way he did. I don’t blame her for feeling hurt. How else was she supposed to respond?

What your husband did was destructive, not helpful. The same is true for the way he treats you. Counseling hasn’t worked because of his unwillingness to accept any responsibility for your problems as a couple. My advice is to talk to a licensed therapist on your own, which will help you to see your situation more clearly than you appear to do.

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