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DEAR ABBY: I need some advice regarding my mother-in-law. She has hated me since the first time she met me because I'm not from the country but from "the city." I have given her gifts for birthdays and holidays and invited her on day trips with us, but she always refuses.

She also makes up lies about me. She claims I have STDs, spend all her son's money, etc. She even spread a rumor that I wouldn't allow her at our wedding. She lives 46 miles away and, in the five years we have been married, has never once visited her son. I take him to visit her because he can't get a driver's license because of medical issues.

Our child and I aren't even allowed in her home. We have to sit in the car. She acts like our child doesn't exist, but she has pictures of her other two grandchildren on Facebook and drives to see them almost weekly. My husband sees nothing wrong with her behavior and says he "won't take sides." I don't know what to do. — PEEVED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR PEEVED: Please accept my sympathy for your situation. While your husband refuses to recognize there is anything wrong with his mother's behavior, it is off the charts. I hope you realize that most men stand up for their wives and children when they are mistreated.

Because you can't change your husband or his witch of a mother, and you made no mention of leaving the marriage, you will simply have to adjust to it. Start by planning an activity you and your child can enjoy while your husband is visiting his mom, rather than sitting for hours in the car. Even better, arrange "other" transportation for your husband.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 24-year-old woman who has been in a relationship with a man for seven years. "Ken" is 27 years older than I am. (I pursued him.) I love him, but I have always been slightly confused about my relationship with him, and he knows this. Lately, I have been feeling very guilty. My heart knows that my love for Ken isn't enough for what he truly deserves.

He's a good, honest man, and I enjoy our relationship. We get along great, have a lot in common and make a great team. I am comfortable with us and our life. But recently I have realized that I want to be on my own, alone, and not in a relationship. I feel a strong desire to focus on me and only me, so I can grow into the person I envision myself being. Any advice besides the obvious — my leaving the relationship? — WANTING MORE IN WISCONSIN

DEAR WANTING: You became involved with Ken while you were still very young. It appears you never gave yourself time to fully develop as an individual. You state that you are still "in a relationship" rather than a marriage, which may be a blessing considering your ambivalence.

Many women would be glad to live their life in a relationship that has all the positive qualities that yours has with Ken. I am sure you both will discover this when you move on. However, since you asked my advice, talk this through with a licensed relationship counselor before making any final decision.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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Jeanne Phillips
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