Dear Amy:

I have been married to my husband for 17 years. We have a great relationship, and he is a wonderful person. My mother has become a problem in our marriage. He can no longer tolerate her because she drinks too much, is negative and highly critical.

She will be visiting in December from out of town and will be staying with my sister. Last year she stayed with us, and it was terrible. My husband does not want to see her.

Next spring, my husband and I will be moving out of state to where he grew up. His family is very nice and supportive.

My husband does not want my mother or her husband (who also drinks a lot) to visit.

I have multiple sclerosis and am in a wheelchair, and I am not able to visit her because traveling is too difficult and her home is not accessible.

I love my mother, but I do not like her at times, and I do not want her to become an issue and ruin my wonderful marriage.

What should we do?

At Wit's End

I can certainly understand why your husband doesn't want to be around your mother. Fortunately, he doesn't have to be around her.

As I read your letter, your mother will be staying with your sister -- not you -- and if you can manage to get over to your sister's house for visits during your mother's stay, then it's a perfect solution. After you move out of town, your mother should stay at a hotel if she wants to visit you.

The best thing to do here is to make sure that your mother never becomes your husband's problem. From here on out, your relationship with her should be your own business.

Unless seeing her is damaging to you emotionally or physically, then you should continue to press on and get the best you can out of this flawed relationship.

Your husband sounds like a really good guy, and I understand your loyalty to him, but he shouldn't try to cut you off completely from your mother. Fortunately for him, HE'S off the hook.

Dear Amy:

I have a very sticky situation on my hands. I had my bridal shower two days ago, and my future mother-in-law, "Barbara," overheard my aunt talking about a spa trip that I am taking a week before my wedding in two months. I made the reservations three months ago for five people only -- my mother, my maid of honor, two bridesmaids and myself.

Barbara invited herself along and fully expects to go!

I can't change the reservations to add another person and, quite frankly, even if I could I wouldn't because Barbara has been rude and intrusive toward me since the day I met her.

This event is just for my family and friends. How can I tell Barbara that she isn't invited -- or should my fiance do it?

Annoyed Bride-to-Be

You're going to have to deliver this news, my dear. This is your pickle, and I suspect that, as annoyed as you are, you realize that you have a part to play in this drama. You don't improve matters with your future mother-in-law by excluding her from this event.

This woman is going to be a member of your family, and you need to figure out how to make that happen.

I'm not saying that you can't enjoy your private times with friends and your mother, but you must also attempt to make personal inroads with your future mother-in-law. You should say, "Barbara, I'm so sorry that I made reservations only for the five of us for our spa trip. I called the spa and they can't add another person. But my mother and I would love it if you would join us for tea (or drinks, lunch or dinner) with just the three of us the day after we get back."

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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