I have been married to "Amanda" for four years. During that time, my parents, especially my mother, have called her and her family "trashy" because they live in a rural area in Texas.

My mother has no reason to abuse my wife the way she does. Amanda's family has always been very kind to me. What really gets me is that my mother also grew up in a rural area. My mother has said repeatedly that if I don't get a divorce, things will never get any better between her and me.

- Abuse in Texas

DEAR ABUSE: When a man marries, he is expected to separate from his family and form a new family with his wife. You must not allow your mother to belittle and abuse Amanda, who must now come first. Because your mother has no intention of changing, it's time to get a divorce - from her. If you don't, she will not only make your life miserable, but also your wife's. (Happy wife, happy life!)

Lending books, never to be seen again

DEAR ABBY: Over the last 10 years, I have loaned books to friends and co-workers. Each time, the books were never returned to me. When I followed up with one friend about it, he seemed insulted that I would ask for the book back. Other people I've loaned books to never mentioned them again.

Is there some etiquette rule that allows people to keep a book that is lent to them indefinitely? If not, what's the best way to make sure my book gets returned?

- Bookworm in Michigan

DEAR BOOKWORM: No rule of etiquette dictates that when something is lent it is the person's to keep. The individuals you lent the books to may have been embarrassed because they never got around to reading them or lost them.

I suppose you could make clear when you lend a book to someone that you expect it back within a certain period of time - say, a month. But the only way to "guarantee" that you get the book back is to not lend it in the first place.