Son lives in constant fear for unhappy mom's welfare

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law constantly talks to my husband about committing suicide because she's not happy with her life or her husband. My husband worries all the time and has offered to let her come stay with us for a while.

To me, this would be a nightmare. I can't be around her more than two or three days, and she has "hinted" that she would like to move in permanently with us. I have told my husband how I feel, but he's terrified she will follow through. How can I fix this? Should I tell her how I feel?

— SCARED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR SCARED: If your mother-in-law moves in with you, it will probably spell the end of your marriage. She needs more help than you or her son is qualified to give. Explain this to your husband. His mother may suffer from chronic depression or be trying to manipulate her son through emotional blackmail. If he really wants to help his mother, he will make sure she is evaluated by a licensed mental health professional.

DEAR ABBY: We love being near the water, but my husband drags a chair behind our rental and sits in the sun in the alley without his shirt. This is an upscale neighborhood, and it's embarrassing to me, especially because he is in his 70s and not in shape to display his stomach.

The neighbors laugh it off, but I have told him how I feel and pleaded with him to walk a few steps to the beach and sit there shirtless. He said I hurt his feelings and embarrassed him by suggesting it. What more can I do to make him see how inappropriate it is?

— BEACH BUNNY

DEAR BUNNY: Nothing! If he doesn't feel sunbathing in the back alley is inappropriate and the neighbors aren't offended, then the problem is you, not him. He may not want to sunbathe on the beach because he is self-conscious about his appearance, and your comments didn't help. Apologies are in order.

DEAR ABBY: I am a teetotaler. As frequently happens when a group of friends share a meal together at a restaurant, when the bill arrives, one of the party will suggest, "Why don't we just split it?" The rest of the group usually quickly agrees, but left out of the equation is the fact that the lone teetotaler did not participate in the round — or several rounds — of cocktails before dinner and ends up subsidizing the drinkers. If I squawk about it, I look cheap. If I don't, I feel taken advantage of. Please advise.

— TICKED OFF TEETOTALER

DEAR T.O.T.: If you haven't squawked before, you should. The time to speak up would be when the get-together is being planned and you can talk to each of your friends privately. Suggest the booze bill and the food tab be separate, which would keep the math simple for everyone. Or, put enough in the till to cover your cost and the tip, and let them split the rest.

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