Awkward online photos put in-laws on the outs

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have been with my husband for 20 years, married for eight of them. He thinks his mother can do no wrong. She takes pictures of me when I least expect it, and then posts the worst ones on Facebook. She laughs and thinks it's funny, but I am really hurt by it.

To make it worse, his sister does the same to me now. They constantly have their phones pointed toward me, and when confronted, they deny taking pictures or insist all pictures have been deleted.

I have always supported my husband's relationship with his family, but I don't feel like they support us being together. I have deleted his mother as a friend on Facebook and no longer go to family functions. My husband agrees that what she's doing is wrong, but offers no support. His family prides themselves on class, but this is anything but classy. -- CAUGHT OFF GUARD

DEAR CAUGHT: It isn't classy to willfully hurt others, as your MIL and SIL have been doing. Both appear to have a cruel streak, and this is their way of needling you.

What troubles me is that you have allowed them to drive you away from family functions, which I assume your husband is attending without you. Have another talk with him. Go to another family gathering, and when you see the cameras aimed at you, tell them to cut it out. Your spineless husband should back you up on it, tell them that it isn't funny, and if there are any shots of you on their FB pages, HE wants them deleted immediately.

DEAR ABBY: I'm in an eight-year relationship, and we share a 3-year-old child together. We talk about marriage, but truth be told, I'm having doubts. He has a wandering eye, which is a total turn-off for me.

For instance, when we go to a restaurant and the waitress walks up to assist us, as soon as she turns around, he automatically glues his eyes on her backside. I don't say anything about it, but it's so annoying. Should I say anything or just continue to pretend that I don't see? -- BOTHERED IN LOUISIANA

DEAR BOTHERED: Many men ogle, but for most of them, it's only their eye that wanders. Because it bothers you so much you may not want to move the relationship forward, by all means speak up. Pretending not to notice has changed nothing. After eight years of silence, I think it's time to set the father of your child straight, don't you?

DEAR ABBY: I have wonderful neighbors. They own a fish market in Chinatown. Since they moved in three years ago, he has given me fish almost every other week. My dilemma is, he speaks almost no English, and she speaks only broken English. Some of the fish he gives me I don't use, so I offer it to another neighbor or throw it out.

I would like to tell him which fish I prefer, but don't want to seem ungrateful or like it's shopping from home. Any suggestions on how to handle this? -- GRATEFUL IN NEW YORK

DEAR GRATEFUL: You might "innocently" mention which fish you especially appreciate when he brings it to you, but other than that, I think you should be grateful for your neighbor's generosity and forget about "placing an order" for something you're not paying for. You should also make an effort to reciprocate in some way so the man and his wife are not doing all the giving.

DEAR ABBY: My family just came back from a relative's after a weekend visit. The occasion was a birthday party, and he had a tattoo artist come over. My boyfriend -- the father of our 14- and 3-year-olds -- spent our last $100 and went ahead and got himself a tattoo! We aren't rich, and we had to borrow money for gas to get home.

I think he is the most selfish person on the face of the planet, and I get mad at him for every other little thing now. I can't imagine many adult men would do that to their partner. I know a few who would even say, "No, Honey, you get something. I can wait." Is there any hope for mankind? -- MARK OF DISASTER IN WASHINGTON

DEAR MARK OF DISASTER: There is plenty of hope for mankind; for the father of your 14- and 3-year-olds, maybe not so much. Was he under the influence at that party, or does he make poor decisions about money often?

That tatt is now a constant reminder of your disappointment in him, so I hope it's in a place where you don't have to see it every day or night. You have my sympathy, but you chose this person as a life partner.

DEAR ABBY: My parents have been together for more than three decades, but their marriage has been strained for years. Still, they won't pull the plug and call it quits. It's making us kids (all in our 20s and out of the house) and our extended family confused and frustrated.

They still live under one roof, although they spend all of their time in separate parts of the house and communicate only through us kids. They're clearly miserable, but if any of us tries to speak to them about their toxic dynamic, each one blames the other.

Abby, I adore both of my parents, but they're becoming shells of themselves. I know it's not my business to step in, but something has to change. I can't handle another tense holiday visit. What should I do? -- CONCERNED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR CONCERNED: You and your siblings should sit down with your parents and tell them the effect their toxic dynamic has had on you as a family. All of you should urge them to seek counseling from a licensed marriage and family therapist. Then cross your fingers and hope they are willing to follow through. However, if they aren't and you can't handle another tense holiday visit, I recommend you make other plans and tell them why.

DEAR ABBY: I am 13. Three years ago, I was in a car accident that left me in a wheelchair. I have been able to move on in life and am happy and have lots of friends who help me stay active in sports, etc. My problem is, I had a friend before my accident who moved away, and I'm sure he doesn't know his once best friend can no longer walk.

I just heard his family is moving back here, and I'm not sure how to handle this. Should I contact him before the move, or wait and be like, "Oh, by the way"? Do you have any advice? -- WONDERING IN NEW YORK

DEAR WONDERING: The news is bound to be a shock. If you have this young man's contact information, I vote for letting him know in advance about the accident. And while you're at it, fill him in on what you have been doing since he left town.