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Section: manners

Dear Ann Landers,
My husband and I have been married for 30 years. He is Italian, and I am Canadian. I speak only English. Whenever we are with my mother-in-law, she and my husband speak nothing but Italian. My husband doesn't see anything wrong with this, even though I am left totally out of the conversation. He says the language is part of his heritage and it makes his mother happy. I would be more understanding if my mother-in-law could not speak English, but she speaks it very well. When our children were growing up, I never made an issue of it because I wanted the children to feel close to their grandparents, but now, it is bothering me to no end. I feel completely excluded and avoid being with just the two of them. I say they are terribly rude. What do you say? -- Excluded and Offended

Dear Ex.,
I think you should have learned to speak Italian a long time ago. Get some elementary Italian grammar books at the public library, and ask your husband to help you. Start practicing with him. I'll bet he will be pleased, and your mother-in-law will be astonished.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Lisa's Comment
There's another layer of something going on with that couple. Learning to speak Italian may result in a pause, but the husband and his mother are going out of their way to exclude the wife--why?

Jean kennedy live's Comment
I think Mothers always want a special part of their sons attention This maybe her way of doing that. I am sure after 30 years you have picked enough of their language to know if they are disrespecting you. Do you love your husband then ignore them and find a way to make yourself happy. Find peace within yourself and try to enjoy them the best way you can. On the other hand if you don't love him anymore just tell him how you feel and let the chips fall where they may, He should have spoken up long before now on the other hand you could have spoken up also. There seem to be something else going on but you find a way to be happy.

Hannah's Comment
Make plans for yourself and let them enjoy each other's company

Reader Comment
I am of Italian heritage and have relatives who were born in Italy. I am second generation American Italian. Our parents spoke Italian to our grandparents only because they never learned English. MY grandparents are all gone now but still have family members who were born in Italy but speak (almost) perfect English and do not speak Italian with the rest of the family. These people, the mother

Debra's Comment
They were being rude and chose to ignore her. They chose to speak in Italian because they knew she didn't understand the language. If she needs to learn to speak Italian then they can use English until she has it mastered.

Reader Comment
Ann is ignoring the obvious clues here that there are underlying problems that will not be solved by the woman learning Italian. Her husband and mother-in-law are purposely excluding her. I can't imagine why she has continued to visit the mother-in-law with her husband. The next time he visits his mother I would tell him to have a nice time. I'm staying home and reading a good book--in English!
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"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them."
-Ann Landers