Dear Annie: I am a longtime reader of your column, but now I need advice. I recently married my husband after nearly a five-year engagement. Things were rough, as all new things can be, but we have pulled through. However, my husband's mother has begun vocalizing some colorful opinions of late, and it is causing problems. She has been spreading rumors that I fancy abusing my husband. She makes sure to find his friends on social media and then convince them that I am harming him.
I am unsure where this newfound hatred for me is coming from, but I can think of two possible reasons. The first is that despite acting as if she was OK with her son's marrying another man, she isn't very comfortable with it. The second is that she used to be able to convince him that she needed money, which she would promptly spend at the casino, a financial burden we could not afford. I recently persuaded him to stop supporting her gambling habit and said that if she needs something, we can buy it for her. I need advice. I want our marriage to thrive, but I am afraid his mother will not allow that to happen. Please, any guidance is appreciated. — Loved and Loathed
Dear Loved and Loathed: Spreading false rumors about someone is not only rude; if it goes too far, it can be considered slander and have legal consequences. I am in no way suggesting that you sue your mother-in-law, but I want to reassure you that your frustration is valid and this is a serious matter.
Likewise, your mother-in-law's gambling addiction is serious. Addictions have a way of ensnaring whole families in unhealthy patterns of behavior. At the very least, you and your husband should consider attending a Gam-Anon meeting in your area. If he refuses to go, then go on your own at first. (The meetings are open to anyone who is affected by a loved one's gambling.) Furthermore, I recommend that you and your husband find a marital counselor. There's no shame in reaching out for professional help, especially when it could save your marriage.
Dear Annie: I work at a fast-food restaurant, and there are nights when we get very busy. Whenever we do get busy, my co-workers are very cranky. They're constantly arguing with one another and snapping at one another. It's almost as if they don't want to do their jobs, as if they'd rather be standing around doing nothing. Annie, it feels as if I'm the only one at my workplace who even tries to keep a positive attitude when we're busy. Should I try to persuade the others to let things go, or is this a case of "if you can't beat them, join them"? — Only Optimist
Dear Optimist: Keep smiling. My father used to always say that no hard work goes unnoticed. Even if at the moment it doesn't seem as if you are being appreciated or you are the only one in the restaurant with a smile on your face, in the long run, you will be much more successful in life with a positive attitude. It feels good to take pride in your work. With your outlook, you'll end up running the restaurant or achieving any goals you set your mind to.
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