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DEAR ABBY

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dear Abby:

I married the love of my life, "Simon," a year ago. At the time, I was five months pregnant. While Simon and I stood taking our vows at the altar, his mother, "Bernice," felt the need to stand up and announce that the only reason we were being married was because I was pregnant -- and that I'd done it on purpose to tie him down. I was devastated hearing this at my wedding, and I let Simon know it. I tried to forgive her.

A few months later, Bernice arrived at the hospital as I was giving birth. Again, she started in on how I got pregnant on purpose to tie her son down and began telling everyone in my family how horrible I was. Again, I tried to forgive her.

The final straw came when plans were being made to celebrate Simon's college graduation. Bernice made dinner reservations for everyone in the family and excluded my son and me. I told Simon how hurt I was. His response was, "I can't control my mother."

Abby, I was so fed up with having to swallow her abuse with no support from my husband that I kicked him out. I desperately wish he would confront his mother about her abusive behavior, but he's scared of her. I have tried talking to her about it, but when I do she just gets worse. I want to save my marriage, but I don't want Bernice around me or my son anymore. What should I do?

Had Enough in Grapevine, Tex.

Whether or not your marriage is salvageable is up to your husband. You married a man with an impossible, domineering and hostile mother. Forget that it takes "two to tango." Because Simon hasn't accepted his own responsibility in the conception of this child, he has allowed his mother to portray you as the tramp who tricked him into fatherhood. There is nothing you can do. It's up to Simon to deal with his mother. Unless he's willing to confront the problem, get marriage counseling with you and act on it, nothing will change.

Dear Abby:

I am a 27-year-old stay-at-home mom with three kids. Two are my fiance "Sean's"; the littlest is ours together. Sean and I have been together almost seven years.

I need help. I am a very depressed person and have been for many years. I shop excessively and spend way too much -- sometimes all of our money -- and I don't know how to stop. Shopping makes me feel happy, and when I'm depressed (which is often), I go out shopping for stuff I don't even need. I have even started shopping online for stuff. I feel horrible about this. Sean and I have tried separate bank accounts, but when I'd run low I would just tap right into his. Please help me. I don't know what to do.

Spend-a-Holic in Ventura, Calif.

It is time to stop and take inventory of what you have and what you don't. You are substituting "things" for something important that's missing in your life. (Could it be a wedding ring?) Trying to self-medicate long-term depression by going on a spending spree is putting a Band-Aid on an infected wound.

Please contact your physician for a referral to a doctor who can give you medication to lift the depression, as well as counseling for your underlying problem. It's the only way to fix what's ailing you.

2005Universal Press Syndicate

© 2005 The Washington Post Company