Dear Ann:

I hope you can help me with this very delicate problem. I have no one else to turn to. When my husband and I first married, my cousin, "Rex," sent us an X-rated video. We thought it was funny, and said so. However, over the past few years, Rex has sent other items that make me wonder if he is fantasizing about me.

Two years ago, Rex sent a risque costume for Halloween, along with a camera, telling me to have someone take pictures of me in the costume and send them to him. For my birthday, he sent a pair of thigh-high fishnet stockings and a gift certificate to a lingerie boutique. When my husband saw the stockings, he blew up. He insists Rex is infatuated with me. He even asked if Rex and I had ever been intimate. I was insulted by the question, and let him know it.

Ann, Rex is married, and the father of two children. His wife is not a particularly warm person, and I'm wondering if Rex is having marital problems and looking to me as a safe substitute. Should I confront him and ask him to stop sending me gifts? I'm afraid if he sends one more suggestive present, my husband might do something that will create a severe family problem. Please tell me how to handle this.

Stumped in Connecticut

I think Rex needs to be told in no uncertain terms that he should stop sending you X-rated garbage and little presents that he thinks are funny, such as thigh-high stockings and gift certificates to lingerie shops. Be forthright about the fact that your husband was upset by those gifts, and that they caused a family dust-up. Better yet, tell Rex no more gifts of any kind. Period. And if he insists on sending you presents after your declaration, return them unopened.

Dear Ann:

Please tell me if I'm wrong. My wife's parents called last week, and asked if they could stay in our extra bedroom for the night. They live in the suburbs. We get along well, so naturally, I said yes. My wife and I had been planning an evening out, and my in-laws offered to watch our daughter so we wouldn't have to hire a sitter. It seemed like a very convenient arrangement.

Here's the problem. My in-laws smoke. They know we do not tolerate smoking in our home, especially now that we have a young child. When my wife and I returned from our evening out, it was obvious that my in-laws had been puffing up a storm. Also, there were ashes on the sofa where they had been sitting.

I was furious. When we asked them about it, they became angry, and started yelling that our rules were ridiculous, and that they should be allowed to smoke in our home if they want to. Then, they left in a snit, and have threatened to cut all ties with us.

My wife and I are not anti-smoking crusaders, Ann. We don't mind if friends or family members smoke, but we don't want them doing it in our house. I don't believe we are unreasonable, but apparently, they do. My wife loves her parents, and other than this issue, we get along just fine. I certainly don't want our daughter to grow up without her grandparents, but I am concerned about my child's health, and do not want her around all that secondhand smoke. How can we repair this rupture and have a good relationship again without caving in on the smoking issue?

The Son-in-Law

You have every right to tell your in-laws they cannot smoke in your home, and they should respect your wishes. To maintain cordial relations, I suggest you offer to take them out for dinner at an upscale restaurant, and try to find one that allows smoking. (Many don't.) That should do it.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.