Dear Annie: My mother-in-law, "Marley," has me worried. Two years ago, Marley married a doctor and moved west to live with him. Her husband has a 50-ish daughter, "Carrie," who is quite close to her father. Carrie claims to have several food allergies.
Marley told me that it irritates her when Carrie comes over and eats from their fridge, so she has started chopping up some of these sensitive foods and putting them into soups and such, which Carrie then innocently eats. Marley hasn't told her husband, because he will tell Carrie.
Over the holidays, Marley came to visit us. In one of our conversations, I mentioned that my 12-year-old daughter and I share an allergy to walnuts. Yet, for our holiday dinner, Marley made a dessert with crushed walnuts in the crust and didn't tell us. After I ate a bite and noticed my mouth was on fire, I told my daughter not to eat any. I then reminded Marley that we are allergic, and not 10 minutes later, she held out a piece of this same dessert and told my daughter to "have some."
My husband doesn't want to believe his mother would intentionally hurt his family, but I'm not so sure. Yesterday, Marley sent our family a box of cookies that contained ground walnuts. What should I do? Allergic and Angry
Dear Allergic: We might have thought this was accidental, except for the fact that Marley confided she was deliberately giving her stepdaughter reactive foods. Either Marley erroneously believes allergies are faked and she is determined to prove it, or she is homicidal. Whichever, the woman sounds seriously deranged.
Your husband (or you, if he refuses) should talk to Marley's husband, the doctor, and tell him what she is doing. Ask him to see that Marley gets a complete physical and some education about allergic reactions. In the meantime, do not eat anything that she bakes, cooks or mails to you. Ever.
Dear Annie: Your advice to "Scared to Death," whose husband accesses incest porn via the computer, needs to include another component. Cybersex is, by virtue of its content and means of access, highly addictive. Certainly, this individual could benefit from therapeutic assistance, but many psychotherapists do not have substantial training in addictive behavior, particularly sexual.
Please tell him to check with the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (formerly the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity) to find a qualified counselor in his area. Elsbery W. Reynolds, CSAT, Idyllwild, Calif.
Dear Elsbery Reynolds: Thank you for your expert assistance. Anyone interested in contacting SASH can do so at ncsac.org or by writing P.O. Box 725544, Atlanta, GA 31139. Here's one more:
Dear Annie: You blew it big-time with your reply to "Scared to Death." Yes, she has every right to insist that her husband do whatever is necessary so she can feel their future children will be safe, and if his porn interest is a major expense in the family budget, she has a right to complain about that, too.
She does not, however, have the right to put a control device on his computer to lock him out of the sites. He is an adult and it is his computer. Where's his right to privacy? If any wife of mine did that, I would remove the lock, even if it meant reformatting the hard drive or buying a new computer. Then I would put a password on my machine so that she couldn't use it. Greensboro, N.C.
Dear Greensboro: Yes, he is an adult, but he has an addiction to porn that he says he wants to overcome. If he will not agree to put a lock on those sites, he's not trying very hard.
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