Dear Abby: Long marriage becomes abusive over time  

DEAR ABBY: My husband's dad, "Adam," is very mellow and can talk to anyone. His mom, "Eve," is friendly, but a little more reserved.

Early in their marriage, Adam was a drinker, and my mother-in-law has never forgiven him for the way he treated her during that time. She has always treated him disrespectfully, but as they get older, it's becoming worse.

She has hit Adam when we had people over because he didn't do what she told him to do. I told her to stop, and my husband told her she embarrassed him, but Eve forgets or doesn't care and continues to do it. She talks down to him constantly. If that's how she acts when people are around, I hate to think what happens behind closed doors.

When she hits him, Adam sits there expressionless and doesn't react. He's not the man he once was, and he is adored by many people. What can we do to help my FIL and make her stop doing this in front of her grandkids and company? Eve claims to be a Christian, but isn't acting like one. -- FRUSTRATED IN MICHIGAN

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your father-in-law may have had a drinking problem years ago, but he has a different problem now. He is a victim of verbal and physical abuse. He may have tolerated it all these years out of guilt for what he put his wife through when he was drinking. He may also have become so beaten down that he can no longer protect himself.

He does need help. With your and his son's encouragement, he can receive it because there are programs available for male victims of domestic violence. Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE) is an organization that helps abused individuals of all ages, genders, races and sexual orientations. The website is stopabuseforeveryone.org.

DEAR ABBY: I met a nice friend. He's a widower whose wife has been gone for three years. My husband died 10 years ago.

He makes me laugh, something I haven't done in a while. I really like this guy, but he is still grieving. Some days he's good, but others he's a mess.

I want us to be in a relationship, and I think he could be "the one." We've only been courting for a month, but he has been pursuing me for a year. Should I give it more time, or should I move on with my life? I haven't been intimate with him, but he still makes me feel like a woman, which is something I've missed. -- THINKING IT'S HIM IN MARYLAND

DEAR THINKING: As you know, the process of grieving isn't a straight line. When a loved one dies, the survivors have good periods and ones that are less so. You are further along in this grieving process than your friend because his loss is more recent.

If a relationship (or more) is what you want, allow him more time to work through his feelings. However, if the bad spells don't become less frequent, suggest he talk with his doctor about joining a grief support group in which he can safely vent his feelings.

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.