Dear E. Jean: My new husband’s mother is very rich and very bored. She lives in the country. We live in the city. She has offered to buy us a house, but only if it’s in a spot she approves (i.e., rich, white, Republican). So we’ve gone house hunting and found an awesome Dutch colonial. But now she’s using the money she’s going to give us to buy the house to manipulate how we live our lives.
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For instance, I have travel perks with my job, so my husband and I have been planning a trip to San Francisco. She absolutely insists we stay home and not be “so frivolous.” My husband and she had a big fight—and we are taking the trip. But it’s turning into a guilt trip; she’s offering us more money and making us feel like crap because, honestly, she has nothing better to do with her time than try to make up reasons for my husband to still need her. (Did I mention he’s an only child fed with a silver spoon?) Help! —Tormented by the Rich and Lonely
Miss Tormented, My Poor Fish: Oh, boy. How do I answer without insulting a mother…
I, uh, have a dog. His name is Lewis Carroll. When Lewis—a rescued poodle the size of a Belmont Stakes champion, his hair pomading half a foot high and his grin gleaming like Eleanor Roosevelt’s—gets loose on the Appalachian Trail and starts humping his way up the mountain, as happy a dog as ever lived on the planet, all I, his mother, have to do is yell and shake a bag of treats. The result: Lewis abandons his freedom for a biscuit. A biscuit!
Give the lady your respect and your interest, and love her if you can, Tormented. But: I don’t care if she pays for a Dutch colonial flown in from Amsterdam. I don’t care if she gives you Graceland. Do not accept the house. Or you will live the rest of your marriage on a leash. (Because if you think it’s difficult now, wait until you have puppies.)
This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.