Dear Marcie

My Husband, my daughter and I live with my mother-in-law and have for many years. I have never been able to comprehend her. She is often obsequious, and then she turns around is denigrating. She thinks nothing of being odious one moment and sociable the next. Because I am not as fastidious as she, she considers me slothful. I have no idea how to convey to her the depth of the injury she has inflicted on me over the years. Can you tell me what to do? Thanks.

Tired of Mother-in-law


Dearest Tired,

People are strange. Understanding other people's actions and behaviors is oftendifficult if not entirely baffling. Such appears to be the case with your mother-in-law's reported behavior. While it could be attributable to a simple lack of refinement or etiquette, the mood fluctuation could signify a cause for deeper concerns, in which case I wouldn't overlook a professional evaluation by someone in the mental health field. Assuming this isn't the case, I'm sure she means well but is unaware. Don't be tooquick to judge. After all, she's a motherand as such has formulated her own unique logic. Also, you're threshold for emotional distress has no doubt been lowered by bottling up your thoughts and feelings on the subject. We cannot revisitthe past, but we can move forward. Without hesitation, I would begin a dialogue with her over any concerns you may have or feel. Rarely do relationshipdifferences get resolved in one sitting, so be patient. If you can make it through the first "talk", it could provide the foundationfor future productive conversations. And be gentle. Not many people react well when someone is pointing out their deficiencies. But I hope you'll find thattalking it out directly will increase awareness, help ease the tension and perhaps resolve a few things. And if all else fails, move out.