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Section: children, relationships

Dear Ann Landers,
My husband's mother passed away four years ago. His father remarried not long after, but my husband hasn't taken to his stepmother very well. He never speaks to her unless he absolutely has to. Although there never has been an argument or a fight between them, the tension is obvious, and it is uncomfortable for everyone. About two months ago, I had a long talk with my father-in-law and let him know that his son wanted a closer relationship. The minute I opened my mouth, his wife jumped in, made all kinds of accusations and stormed out. I admit I might not have been very diplomatic in my approach, but I figured it was best to be honest and lay my cards on the table. Apparently, that was the wrong thing to do. I have apologized to his wife for being so frank, but I cannot change the way I feel. Now, the woman avoids us completely, and I think she is persuading my father-in-law to do the same. I am afraid I have made things worse, and now, I want to make the situation better. Any ideas? -- Lost in Louisiana

Dear Louisiana,
It is said that distance lends enchantment, and in this case, I recommend it -- for a while, at least. Maintain contact, but don't rehash the argument. Let the situation cool down. Don't try to butter up the woman or be obsequious. Just be pleasant. Ignore the past, and let time do its work. Lonesome? Take charge of your life and turn it around.

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Reader Comment
Is she the preverbal evil step mother? I feel sorry for your FIL, but he is apparently being brain washed by his 'wife'. Step back and let him see the true bitch he married! Yes, he's stuck with her now, you and your husband don't need to be.

Me's Comment
Your husband should reach out to his dad and try to spend more time with him. Let him own this: it was never your message to share. He mustn’t let much time pass, as the wife will convince her husband your son’s avoiding him due toa guilty conscience, or some such nonsense. Yes, your MIL is being unreasonable, but surely you knew better than to broach this whole “frank” discussion in her presence.

Weezer's Comment
This is between your husband and his father. Step back and let your husband make the next move. If he wants to visit with his dad, he can ask the dad to see him alone without the stepmom. From now on, stay out of it, except to be your husband's private sounding board if he needs to vent or figure out what to do.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good."
-Ann Landers