Sisters-in-law at each other’s throats

My two daughters-in-law, “Dolly and Cynthia,” have been arguing for the past nine years. These women are in their 30s and act like teenagers. They had a shouting match at a grandchild’s birthday party and last week fought publicly in the church parking lot.

Dear Annie: My two daughters-in-law, “Dolly and Cynthia,” have been arguing for the past nine years. These women are in their 30s and act like teenagers. They had a shouting match at a grandchild’s birthday party and last week fought publicly in the church parking lot.

Dolly lies continually, and Cynthia shouts out four-letter words in front of the kids. I told Dolly we will not be able to do any holiday get-togethers if this situation is not resolved. Since she is older than Cynthia and some of this is her fault, I wanted her to apologize to her sister-in-law. She promised to do so, but hasn’t. My son insists the parking lot scene was not Dolly’s fault, even though he didn’t witness it.

I despair that this will go on forever. I have suggested counselling, but Cynthia has no interest in fixing this. She doesn’t trust Dolly and wants nothing to do with her. And Dolly has been very cruel to Cynthia’s eight-year-old daughter, accusing her of ignoring her five-year-old cousin. After the argument at the church, Dolly’s blood pressure skyrocketed and she had to go to the emergency room.

This whole thing is going to make everyone ill. Cynthia tries to avoid Dolly, but Dolly can’t stop herself and it always ends badly. I had two Thanksgiving dinners and don’t want two Christmas celebrations. The grandchildren do not get to spend time together. What’s a grandma to do? — Wish They’d Grow Up

Dear Wish: We think Cynthia has a temper, but Dolly is the main culprit — not because she is older, but because she lies, is cruel to an eight-year-old and insists on provoking her sister-in-law. We think she needs professional help. You cannot fix this without their co-operation, so we urge you to stay out of it or you’ll risk your relationship with both of them.

Invite everyone for family occasions, or let them host separate ones. If they fight in your home, ask them to leave. If you want the cousins to get together, have them come to your house without their mothers.

Dear Annie: I have been married for 25 years and have come to realize that I am in a verbally abusive relationship. My wife talks down to me, minimizes my feelings and does not make any effort to acknowledge things I say. She is always right.

I have been in counselling for two years and have reached the point where I need to leave the marriage.

But I am hesitant to do so because I fear what my wife will say about me to people in our small community. She can be very vindictive.

I am extremely unhappy and don’t know how to get out. Please help. — New York

Dear N.Y.: You are smart to recognize that your wife could make this difficult. However, we hope you won’t let that deter you from doing what is necessary for your mental health. Talk to your therapist about how best to proceed, and then contact an attorney with experience in helping abuse victims.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Needing Advice,” whose boss is having an affair with a female co-worker. I am sick of hearing about gossiping workers who get upset at the person who is having an affair.

I would like to highlight several important points.

1. They were hired to work. Period.

2. It’s none of their business if someone is having an affair.

3. They have no right to force their moral judgments on others.

As someone who has owned his own company and been on the board of directors of another, I am only interested in one thing: the success of the company and the production of a quality product. If an extramarital affair or gossip starts to affect the work, then I will take action — not the employees. If they don’t like my rules, they are free to seek other employment. — Bob

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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