Nearby relatives grow distant

DEAR ANNIE:My wife and I are both 54-year-old professionals. We grew up in the same small town, but didn't begin a romance until our 30th high-school reunion. We were in a long-distance relationship for four years and then married two years ago. Her children are grown. My 14-year-old son lives with us.

The problem is her parents. For some reason, they have decided they do not like me. I am not welcome in their home, nor will they come to our house. My wife is invited to every one of their family events, but my son and I are not. Her three siblings treat me the same way, as does her 28-year-old daughter. We all live in the same town, but I have no contact with any of them.

I have never treated any of my in-laws with anything other than the utmost courtesy and respect. I have tried engaging her parents and sister in dialogue, but no one will say a peep. I am convinced her parents are purposely stressing my wife in the hope that our marriage will fail.

I could deal with all of this if I felt my wife stood up for, supported and properly prioritized our family. I feel she should not attend functions if we all are not invited. I am hurt and humiliated when she goes without us — effectively saying it's OK for her family to treat us poorly.

I cannot fathom treating my children as her parents have treated us. I think their behavior is controlling, selfish and borderline abusive. Is it too much to expect my wife to stand up for her family? — Ignored Husband


DEAR IGNORED:Of course not. Your wife's family continues to treat you with disrespect because your wife permits it. She should have the decency to tell them you are a package deal and insist on your inclusion. They will never willingly adjust to your marriage if your wife doesn't demand they make the effort.

DEAR ANNIE: I have a simple question. Our family received an unusual gift last Christmas from an aunt and uncle. Included in the card was a gift receipt, along with a rebate offer for the item and the regular receipt, which is needed to cash in the rebate.

My question is, who should benefit from the rebate? Should it be shared with my aunt and uncle? Returned? Kept? — Beyond my Reasoning in the Midwest

DEAR MIDWEST:If the original receipt and rebate offer were included in the card from the givers, it means they intended for you to send in the paperwork and keep the proceeds. (If they had wanted the rebate, they would have sent in the receipt themselves.) Consider it part of the gift. Be sure to thank them.

DEAR ANNIE:I read the letter from "Loving Dad," whose 20-year-old daughter doesn't know how to dress to complement her body shape. I, too, had this problem, and my father stepped in. At first I found it offensive and refused to listen, but I soon realized he was right.

Too often, I have seen overweight women wear unflattering things, and everyone is too polite to speak up. I am glad my father was willing, because it allowed me to see just how unattractive I looked.

My parents were quick with praise, but they were also quick to tell the truth. If something didn't look good, they said so. It took a while for me to appreciate this, but now, at 28, I dress well and look good.

It is incredibly important for a young woman — especially one with weight issues — to learn what flatters her. Our society judges on appearance, and this could affect her in many ways. I suggest Dad speak to his wife about how to gently broach the subject. — Eternally Grateful


DEAR GRATEFUL:Very few people so willingly accept constructive criticism. Your parents handled it well, but you handled it better. Kudos.

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