Dear Annie: Our son, “Luc,” has been married for 22 years, but the last two have been under the most trying circumstances. Luc’s marriage is a sham, and they are both at fault.
He and my daughter-in-law are unhappy, but continue to live together for the sake of their two teenage children.
Our daughter-in-law is a control freak and fiercely competitive.
She lacks warmth, compassion, understanding and any appreciation of Luc’s qualities and needs.
In turn, our son has developed a roving eye in an effort to make up for what is lacking within the marriage.
Matters came to a head two years ago when our daughter-in-law realized she had lost her husband’s affection.
She wanted revenge and not only banished Luc to the basement, but blamed us for the failure of their marriage.
She sent us a viciously worded e-mail to that effect, and anything we ever gave them was tossed or returned, including a family grand piano, which was a gift to our grandchildren.
For two years, our son and grandchildren have not been allowed to contact us.
All cards and gifts are returned unopened.
Luc communicates with us surreptitiously from his office, but otherwise, his hands are tied, as he wishes to protect his children from additional unpleasantness.
They saw a marriage counsellor, but his wife refuses to go back.
This situation is breaking our hearts. What can we do? — Desperate Grandparents in Canada
Dear Grandparents: Not much.
Your daughter-in-law already dislikes you, and any additional interference will only make things worse for your son.
Since you are in touch with Luc, encourage him to continue with marriage counselling, with or without his wife, and be supportive of whatever choices he feels obligated to make.
This type of situation is terribly sad, but not uncommon.
We hope when the children are grown, things will change.
Dear Annie: I am 55 and married to a verbally abusive man.
When I threaten to leave, he will be better for a while, but soon the yelling starts again.
The last time I said I had no feelings for him and wanted a divorce, he threatened to harm me and burn down our house.
I am not allowed to be with any of my friends.
So I went online and found “Jim.” He has been very supportive and a good friend.
We’ve never met, although we e-mail and talk on the phone regularly.
We are in love and want to be together.
How do I leave my husband? I am scared to death of him. — Unhappy
Dear Unhappy: If your husband is threatening you, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) for help. Do it right now. Meanwhile, you are playing with fire by becoming romantically entangled with Jim. Please cool it until you figure out what you are going to do with your marriage.
Dear Annie: I think I will gag if I hear one more woman whine that her live-in boyfriend won’t marry her. Here’s some advice: Don’t move in with him in the first place! There’s an old saying, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
Move on, ladies, and find someone who respects you without having to hop into bed with them. Respect yourself first, and you will in turn be respected. Treat your body like a temple. Don’t disrespect your temple by settling for less than the best, which includes a wedding band on your finger. — Happily Married in Fargo
Dear Fargo: We support marriage, especially when children are involved, but unfortunately, a wedding band is no guarantee of a solid relationship.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.