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Sense of ownership may extend beyond mail

Dear Abby: My boyfriend and I are in our 20s and have been dating for 5 years. We’re renovating a home that we will live in once it’s completed. We have never lived together before.

During the renovation, I have come to the house to find that he has opened packages that were addressed to me. The first time, I didn’t say anything because I thought he might have thought it was his. After the second and third times, I mentioned – nicely – that they weren’t his to open. He claims he “knew” they were things for the house, which is why he opened them.

I was raised that people’s mail and packages were theirs to open, and I would never think of opening anything sent to him. This is an issue for me, but he brushes it off. He feels entitled to open my packages since it is his home, too. How can I make it clear that I expect him to respect my personal mail when he thinks this is no big deal?

No Respect in New York

Dear No Respect: If I were you, I’d be less concerned about his opening your packages and far more concerned that when you tell him something bothers you, he ignores it. His disregard for your feelings is a red flag.

Your boyfriend appears to think that what is yours is his. Is the reverse also true? (I’ll bet it’s not.) Does he also check your phone messages and email? Does this extend to any other areas of your relationship?

If this was only about his opening your mail, I would advise you to open a post office box in your name only. However, if the answer to any of my questions is yes, I think you should take a sober look at the entire relationship.

Dear Abby: My mother-in-law is addicted to prescription painkillers and has been for more than 10 years. She went to rehab once, but relapsed and hasn’t been able to get clean since. She has tried to quit on her own, but ends up having great emotional stress and slight psychotic episodes and starts again.

My problem is, my husband sees her addiction as “manageable.” He sees no harm in having her watch our 3-year-old daughter, even though he has told me he has seen her nod off with her eyes rolled back like drug addicts do, usually during the afternoon.

When we argue about this, he becomes defensive and attacks my family for being “overprotective and paranoid.”

Am I right to put my foot down? I’m sick and tired of fighting over this.

Not Paranoid in Pennsylvania

Dear Not Paranoid: Continue putting your foot down. A person whose eyes have rolled back after taking drugs or alcohol hasn’t “nodded off.” The person has lost consciousness and passed out.

In your mother-in-law’s case, it means that while she may be physically present, she is completely unavailable to supervise your child. Leaving your daughter under the care of a person in this condition is child endangerment. That’s why you can’t allow it.

Dear Abby: Would you please settle a friendly debate between me and my friends? Is it ever appropriate to use your cellphone to update social media or send a text message during a church sermon, or is it still considered a rude act?

Old-Fashioned in Kentucky

Dear Old-Fashioned: It’s still considered rude. In a house of worship, we are supposed to be thinking about more important things than our social schedule, our Facebook page or who tweeted us.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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