DEAR AMY: A year ago my husband was laid off and had trouble finding work.
Due to how long it took for him to find another job we had to give up our apartment and move in with my in-laws. We pay rent and help pay for food. My life has become a living hell. My brother-in-law has been verbally and physically abusive toward my husband and me. He is bipolar and his parents act like his behavior is normal.
My mother-in-law treats me as if I'm a maid. I'm blamed whenever something goes wrong. She has also tried to push us about how we should raise our two sons.
When we ask her to trust us to do what is right for them (they are well cared for) she tells us that they live under her roof and therefore will be raised as she sees fit.
We are looking for another place to live that we can afford, but until then what can I do to keep from losing my mind?
I have tried talking, begging, crying and yielding but no matter what we do we are treated like unwelcome pests. How can I keep the peace without just staying away from them for the rest of my life? — Lost
DEAR LOST: This situation might also be overwhelming for your in-laws, but if your mother-in-law is reacting by mistreating you, this is indefensible. If you and your children were locked in a cage with a tiger, I wouldn't tell you to beg the tiger not to hurt you, but to stay as calm as possible and avoid the tiger until you can escape.
You should get the kids out of the house every day. Visit your local library, both to give the kids the opportunity to do puzzles and pick out books, but also for you to research ways to change your living situation.
Your family might qualify for a housing voucher or other benefits because of your lower income. You should use every available opportunity. These benefits exist so families like yours can work your way back to independence.
Until you move, do your best to avoid the tiger. You don't say what role your husband plays in this dynamic, but he should step up his own efforts to move out, quickly.
DEAR AMY: My husband, "Jack" has been friends with "Joey" for a long time. Over the years I have hosted many dinner parties, and "Joey" is always invited. He has never brought a dessert or a bottle of wine.
The only time he arrived with a dessert item is when he came to our home with a date. This clearly was a thoughtful gesture on her part.
This happened again recently — Joey arrived at our home with only his appetite.
I told my husband I did not want to host his friend anymore. He told me he would tell Joey to bring dessert with him next time. I told him this was contrived and embarrassing.
Should I continue to host someone with poor style, or stand firm and not continue being a hostess to my husband's friend? — Not Appreciated
DEAR NOT: You could try being an even more gracious hostess and accept that some guests are not as couth as they could be. Rather than watch this guest fail in the same way repeatedly and then judge him (and not let your husband try to correct him), if you have an expectation, you should convey it: "Joey, it would be great if you could bring us a bottle of wine this Friday. I really appreciate it when guests bring something to share."
If the real issue is that you simply don't want Joey at every dinner party, then you should stop inviting him.
DEAR AMY: My grandson and his fiancee faced the typical wedding nightmare of trying to please all of their family members. Their solution: They flew to Las Vegas, rented a car and went through a drive-thru wedding — just the two of them. They never got out of the car!
Everything has been fine since. There are simple solutions to almost every problem. — Proud Gramps
DEAR PROUD: I completely agree.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamytribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or "like" her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)
By Amy Dickinson