Dear Abby: I have been married for 40 years.

Dear Abby: I have been married for 40 years. My beloved mother-in-law passed away two years ago. She had always been my “buffer” against the rest of my husband’s family — two brothers and their families and his stepfather, none of whom care for me. When we would visit from out of state, I could be sure that, by my MIL’s side, I would be comfortable and loved, while my husband hung out with his brothers and nieces.

After she passed, some things happened that hurt me, and I must now decide whether to accompany my husband when he goes to visit. I know if I do, I’ll be left alone and isolated on a couch while the rest of them socialize elsewhere, and I dread the thought. My husband doesn’t seem to understand how much I am fearing this. Please advise.

Missing My Mother-in-law

Dear Missing: Unless your husband is an ostrich with his head in the ground, surely he must have noticed how his siblings and their families have treated you for the last 40 years. If it has escaped him, give him chapter and verse! No law says you “must” accompany him on these visits, and frankly, I see no reason why you shouldn’t plan some pleasant activities for yourself in his absence. Try it. You may find you like it.

Dear Abby: Several years ago, when my daughter and her hubby were a young family with two boys, they gave me a large wall clock with sound, lighting and a wooded background with deer. It was a well-thought-out gift, as I was a bow deer hunter. I loved it and I’m sure they didn’t need to be spending money for a Christmas present for me.

My problem is we have since retired and moved. I no longer have a place to hang the clock, and it no longer goes with my decor. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, and it hurts me to think about getting rid of it. Would it be tacky to ask her if she would like it back, explaining my reasoning? An alternative would be to offer it to her sister who also lives in Florida now. If I were to do this, should I tell my gift-giving daughter?

Grateful Mom in Florida

Dear Abby: When your daughter comes to visit, she will notice the clock is missing. Talk to her. Explain that since you have relocated, you no longer have room for the beautiful clock she gave you, and ask what she would like you to do with it — including offering it to her sister who might enjoy it as you did. There will be less guilt for you and fewer hurt feelings for your daughter if you keep everything open and aboveboard.

Dear Readers: I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere — birth fathers, stepfathers, adoptive and foster fathers, grandfathers and all of those caring men who mentor children and fill the role of absent dads.

P.S. And a big shout-out to dual-role moms. I applaud you all, today and every day.

Love, Abby

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.