Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I stop my husband spying on me?

26 March 2022

9:00 AM

26 March 2022

9:00 AM

Q. My husband has developed an irksome habit whenever he goes abroad without me. We have cameras outside the house which are programmed to alert him by iPhone when anyone comes or goes. As soon as I go into the garden I receive WhatsApp messages commenting on my activities, such as ‘I’m not sure you watered the garden for long enough’ and ‘You forgot to bolt the shed door’. Mary, I find this ‘spying’ annoying – what should I do?

— J.F., London SW12

A. An internet connection is required to allow security camera footage to be accessed remotely. Therefore, when you wish to enjoy some privacy in your own back garden, simply flick a switch to turn off the wifi. When it comes on again your husband will be able to scroll through the footage and criticise your efforts retrospectively. This won’t be nearly so annoying as having him do it in real time.

Q. A teacher at my children’s school repeatedly calls me ‘Mum’ every time she speaks to me. She has a great deal of power over me and my children because she is the ‘safeguarding lead’, so I have to remain polite, but I feel she needs not only to be stopped but also punished. Can you help, Mary?

— M.C., London W6

A. Why not get your children to make you a name badge as a project? Next time you go to the school, wear it in a prominent position and smile pleasantly and conspiratorially as you tap the badge saying: ‘Sssh… don’t call me “Mum”. The children have made this badge so you can remember my name. They are worried you have too much work to do to remember it without help. Sweet of them. They are much more considerate than I was at their age!’ In this way, you can unnerve the teacher at the same time as ensuring she stops calling you ‘Mum’.

Q. It is wonderful that my (new) mother-in-law, although 90, is almost as fit as I am (at 60). She grows vegetables and keeps hens and is proud of being self-sufficient. Because she no longer has a driving licence, my husband and I usually go to her. My problem is that she makes a great cauldron of chicken fricassee about once a week, puts it into the fridge and then heats some of it up every day until it runs out. She and her son have stomachs of cast iron. I do not, but my husband is keen that I try to choke down the pernicious mixture as it helps his mother to feel she can still be useful as she can still host people for lunch. Any ideas?

— Name and address withheld

A. Vegetables are more difficult than chicken to make poisonous so tell your mother-in-law that you have become vegetarian. Gush and congratulate her as you choke down large quantities of her homegrown, and skip the fricassee.

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