Life Advice



Ask Amy: Newlywed struggles learning to say ‘no’

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am in my first year of marriage, trying to navigate a tricky in-law situation.

My mother-in-law does a lot of taking and not a lot of giving. This dynamic is increasing at a fast pace.

Not only does she ask for my help constantly, but she also makes everything extremely complicated and frustrating for everyone involved. She will not tolerate being told no. She becomes passive-aggressive and at times has been mean enough to make me cry.

In the last month I have (involuntarily) assisted her in planning a surprise birthday party for a woman I have never met.

My husband and our toddler son even traveled four hours away to attend the party because she would not take no for an answer.

Now she has asked that I help her make a scrapbook for this same stranger, using my wedding photos, which would involve hours of work.


I have also helped her move furniture out of a storage unit.

She never offers to help with our son, even though she lives five minutes away, is retired and in excellent health.

I already have a lot on my plate. I get no privacy and no alone-time with my husband.

I’d love to have a date night, but she always claims to be so busy, while I’m just down the road pulling my hair out!


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