Dear Annie: I’ve always known that my husband’s widowed mother runs his life. She picks out his clothes and even decided which house we should buy. Of course, it’s about a half-mile from hers.

I thought after we married I’d have a more prominent place in his life. Wrong! Every decision is still made by his mother. He acts as if I’m not smart enough.

Meanwhile, his mother completely ignores me. She plans holiday gatherings and everything else with no regard for my preferences or schedule. She calls his cellphone constantly. I think it’s rude. He thinks it’s normal.

I’m seriously thinking about taking our 4-year-old and walking out. I’m not sure he would notice. I love my husband, but he doesn’t have time for me. Any suggestions? I’m ready to explode.

-- Second Best in Michigan

Dear Second Best: We are always surprised by people who marry and expect their spouses to suddenly change years of ingrained behavior. In order for your husband to put you first, he must be willing to do so, and he will have to simultaneously fend off his mother’s objections.

We think he likes things as they are, so this is an uphill battle. You will have to explain why the change is crucial to the health of your marriage, and then insist on counseling. Keep in mind, no attitude adjustment happens overnight. And without effort on his part, it won’t happen at all.

Dear Annie: Could you ask those people who live in the forests in western states why they build their houses so they will burn down? They must do it on purpose, because they have been doing it over and over for years. Not long ago, 360 big houses burned in Colorado.

You can build a house so it won’t burn so easily. It’s very simple: Just build it out of steel, masonry, stucco, tile and drywall, all readily available at the local hardware store. Any builder today will know how to do it, and I don’t think it would cost much more to build and would surely be a lot less expensive to insure.

-- Retired Architect in Dayton, Ohio

Dear Dayton: We have no idea why people build homes with particular materials in places prone to fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. We assume it has to do with the cost, the use of natural materials and a specific preference for the aesthetics. If we hear anything different, we’ll let you know.

Contact the writer: anniesmailbox@comcast.net

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