Dear Annie: My mother-in-law has a decor that was personalized for her by my husband's long-term ex-girlfriend. Every time I go to her house, it's the first thing I see and it really bothers me. The problem is, I don't feel I can say anything to her because after all, it's her house and the decorating was a gift. It's not like I can tell her, "Hey, get rid of it."
The second problem is that my mother-in-law already feels that I'm a "jealous wife" due to our past conversations (which turned into arguments) when she told me about all of the things she caught her son doing with the ex and what a "cute girl" she was. It made me angry, and I said so.
Any suggestions about the house decor? -- Bothered Wife
Dear Bothered: Yes. Control your reaction and leave it alone. You are right that this is not your house and you have no decision-making control over what's inside. Until Mom wants to redecorate, which can be pricey, speaking up about it will only confirm her opinion that you are jealous. And she won't change anything. She might, in fact, enjoy your negative reaction. So don't give her the satisfaction.
Your mother-in-law may have made an emotional investment in the ex and isn't ready to move on and accept that her son chose differently. Instead of silently fuming, try to win her over. Admire some of the decor (it will make her less attached to it as a knife to twist). Tell her how lovely her home is and that the ex did a good job. Ask Mom to help you out the next time you are shopping for a new lamp or arranging pictures on your walls. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Dear Annie: Like the wife of "Embarrassed," I am one of many with an incontinence problem. I thought I was keeping my house and myself odor free until my daughter told me otherwise. (My sense of smell has diminished.)
First of all, she should use panty liners made for this problem and change them when necessary. Change any clothing that may get wet, and thoroughly rinse and dry them before putting in the hamper. Dispose of the pads in a closable plastic bag and when it's full, place the bag in the outdoor garbage container.
I no longer have the odor in my house or on my person. I was also embarrassed, but thankful my daughter told me. -- Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: We heard from hundreds of incontinent readers and those who love them. Here's a sample:
From New York: I have a similar problem, and I wear the newer adult diapers that are thin and look like regular underpants. No one can tell. If she's too embarrassed to buy them, her husband can do it for her.
California: "Embarrassed" complained about the smell because his wife doesn't launder her undies fast enough. How about if HE does the laundry?
Coping With Aging: "Embarrassed" can use a deodorizing spray like Lysol. It's not an accusation, he's just taking care of it. She may appreciate his efforts, and begin to feel more comfortable coping with her situation. He can express his love (in sickness and in health) by giving her a little practical TLC.
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