Dear Ann:

I was 20 years old when I married "Bob." He was 23. We agreed to live with his parents until we got on our feet. I didn't think this would be a problem, since it was only supposed to be temporary. I went to business school, and am now working as an executive assistant and making decent money. We have been married for 10 years and have two children, and guess what? We are still living with Bob's parents.

After 10 years of my in-laws sticking their noses into my business on a daily basis, I have had it. I've been telling my husband for the past five years that we should move out and raise our children on our own. He insists that we must stay and help his parents out financially. Whenever I raise the subject, he tells me I am being selfish, and we end up fighting.

My mother-in-law does everything for my sons. They have absolutely no responsibilities, which worries me. I was raised to be independent. When I married "Bob," my mother told me that living with his parents was a big mistake and that I would regret it. She was right. Not only do we live with his parents, but Bob's two older brothers are also living here, and have been for years.

I am at the point where I want to walk out, but I don't want to hurt my children by raising them without a father. Bob and I fight every day about this. After the latest argument, we stopped speaking to each other. I go home after work, cook, clean and do laundry for 10 people. I need your advice.

N.Y., N.Y.

Get a place of your own at once, even if it's a broom closet over a bowling alley. Pack up your sons, and move. If your husband prefers to stay with Mama, tell him, "Fine. We're going to be separated until I decide whether or not I want a divorce."

Unless his parents and brothers are physically disabled, there is no reason you should be doing their laundry. Stop being an enabler. Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863. It's time you declared your emancipation.

Dear Ann:

I am 86, and my wife of more than 40 years died nearly 20 years ago. We had four fine sons, now all married with families of their own.

About four years ago, I was talking to one of my sons on the phone when he suddenly hung up on me. I must have said something that offended him, but I don't know what it could have been. I called him back immediately, and my grandson answered the phone. He said his father had gone out. I told my grandson to tell his father that if he ever hung up on me again while I was talking to him, that "he has had it."

Since that time, my son has had nothing to do with me, and I have not seen his children. Apparently, he has forbidden them to speak to me. One of his children graduated from high school, and the other graduated from college. I was not invited to either event. I have written letters, sent gifts and tried to patch things up, with no success. My son is a college professor, and his wife is a teacher. He once told me, "I love you, Dad, but I can't stand being around you."

Ann, can you help me fix this? It seems ridiculous that such a simple thing could separate us for years.

Sad in California

I suspect there's more to this story than what you have told me. Nevertheless, I feel that an 86-year-old father deserves extra consideration. Enlist the help of your other sons. I hope this rift will be mended soon, and that you will be welcomed back into the family. Please let me know when it happens. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.