Husband and wife disrespect his parents without remorse

DEAR ABBY: I have two sons who I am very proud of. My husband and I raised them to be respectful and make responsible decisions. However, I go to bed in tears every night feeling like we failed.

Our older son is married and has a son, our grandson “Charlie”, who is very dear to our hearts. Charlie is celebrating his second birthday and our daughter in law told me they are throwing a birthday party for him and we’re invited. She added that she feels the “side activities” they have are the most important and ones that he will remember. We will not be invited to participate in the side activities, which include a hockey game, a trip to the petting zoo, and family photos or videos.

We try to support our son and daughter-in-law, but we don’t feel respected and loved in return. When we invite them to dinner, they come an hour or two late or don’t come at all. We text them but they don’t reply. We offer help and are there for them when they ask, regardless of our personal consequences. What can we do?


LOVE REQUIRED: When I read that your daughter-in-law told you that you weren’t invited to the special events surrounding Charlie’s birthday, my first reaction was that maybe she thought this was too much for you and your husband. However, when you described how your dinner invitations are treated like rubbish and you don’t have enough respect to return your calls and messages in a timely manner, it occurs to me that you were so full of love that you were taken granted.

You may have raised your son well, but your daughter-in-law seems to be running the show. Your parents may have priority in the hierarchy of importance, and when they do, you and your husband need to clean the air with your son AND his wife and sacrifice less when they snap their fingers.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve been working with a therapist to create healthy boundaries with my family. I moved abroad with my husband to ensure these boundaries were respected due to my parents’ alcohol and verbal abuse issues. My younger sister “Maya” recently got engaged and she is at a very exciting time in her life planning her wedding.

Here’s the thing: I have no interest in hearing about it, helping with the planning, or being a part of the wedding because Maya and I have nothing in common other than our parents. She is self-centered and rude. Her fiancé is an introvert, so it’s incredibly difficult to get to know him. How can I politely tell Maya, or (more importantly) my mother, without causing hurt feelings?


LOVE MOVED: You may not be able to avoid hearing about the wedding if you are in touch with your mother and sister. But you have the advantage of living far away from them. If asked to help plan Maya’s wedding, explain politely, logically (and with regret) that your busy schedule AND GEOGRAPHICAL DISTANCE make your participation impossible. However, you should attend if invited.

DEAR ABBY: I am 56 years old, married and in 24 hour care. My husband is terminally ill. When he was diagnosed, all I could think about was what I can do to make my husband and best friend as comfortable and comfortable as possible. I have put my energy into giving him the best possible home care. Putting my energy into taking care of the love of my life is far more important than anything else, and I’ve put myself on the back burner.

We live very isolated lives. We haven’t socialized, mainly because I’m a longtime loner and a bit shy. My husband never had close friends. Basically I’m alone, all my family lives out of state and no friends or relatives around. Abby, I’m scared. I am filled with fear and hopelessness every day. I can’t let my husband see these dark feelings, so I put on a happy face so I don’t put unnecessary stress on him. How do I keep up this facade?


LOVE ALONE AND FEAR: Please accept my deepest sympathy for what you and your beloved husband are going through. It is very important that you realize that you must take care of yourself in order to give him the best possible care.

Ask your husband’s doctor if there is an organization that can offer support and information about his illness. Most of them have support groups and chat options for caregivers – and being able to communicate with others would be beneficial to you.

Since you don’t have a friend or relative close by, you should also ask about respite care. If you use it occasionally, it can give you time to recover and reduce your anxiety. PLEASE consider it. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.

LOVE ABBY: How do I get away from someone I don’t care about? Everything I want to do, he doesn’t want to do. He has refused to go on vacation because of COVID, but he is going hunting later this year if COVID will still be around. When I was working he always wanted to go somewhere, but now that I’m not, he won’t take me anywhere. What should I do?


DEAR UNSATISFIED: A surefire way to walk away from someone you no longer care about is to tell the person, “It’s over.” If he asks you why, tell him he’s no longer serving your needs and say goodbye. Period. No more discussion. If you are married to this person and economically dependent, find a job before consulting a lawyer.

DEAR ABBY: I recently received a formal invitation to a wedding reception for a close friend AND HIS DECEASED WIFE. What is the etiquette for gift-giving at such an event? Is one expected? If yes, what is an appropriate gift?


LOVE UNCERTAIN: Your letter is a first. May I be honest? Sending out formal invitations to celebrate a wedding anniversary where a spouse has died strikes me as macabre. I would love to send you my condolences, but if you feel obligated to send something, a picture frame might be in order.

About dear Abby

Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, aka Jeanne Phillips, and founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

About Ellen Lewandowski

Check Also

Amid the education debate in the Kansas gubernatorial race, school choice is key

Education has dominated the governor’s race between Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and her Republican challenger, …