Cou­ple re­sists pressure to at­tend fam­ily wed­ding

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Your Daily Break - Amy Dick­in­son

DEAR AMY >> My hus­band is from a Euro­pean coun­try. We are in our 60s.

I work part time, and he hasn’t worked in a decade due to health prob­lems.

We are be­ing pres­sured by his fam­ily to at­tend his sis­ter’s wed­ding next year in Europe.

The costs would be as­tro­nom­i­cal for both of us to at­tend. We would have to stay with his mother, and one of us would have to sleep on a couch. Our lit­tle dog would have to be ken­neled and we would be wor­ried the whole time.

My hus­band hates wed­dings and so­cial gath­er­ings, and is re­fus­ing to go un­less I go. He also says I should go with­out him.

His fam­ily is feud­ing. Half won’t at­tend this wed­ding (and they live there). His mother was yelling when I told her he didn’t want to go. She im­plied that his sis­ter would be extremely up­set if we don’t go.

My hus­band doesn’t want his sis­ter to hate him.

What is the way out of this mess?

— Hard Pass DEAR HARD PASS >> You and your hus­band need to find one ex­cuse (sorry, make that “rea­son”) to miss this wed­ding, and stick with it. Pil­ing on var­i­ous (com­pletely valid) rea­sons to miss this wed­ding makes it seem as if you are try­ing to cre­ate a smoke screen. (Do you want to go with­out your hus­band? If so, then at­tend, but un­der­stand that this will not sat­isfy his fam­ily.)

Your hus­band should be deal­ing with this, for the fol­low­ing rea­son: Th­ese are his fam­ily mem­bers. Send­ing you out ahead as a hu­man shield only cre­ates more op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to bull­doze past you and ap­peal to him.

Un­der­stand that this fam­ily pressure stems from the fact that they want to see him! Rather than blame fam­ily mem­bers for want­ing his pres­ence, he should ac­knowl­edge this, and be re­spect­ful and firm in re­sponse.

He should pre­pare him­self (re­hearse, if nec­es­sary), and give a very po­lite “regret” to this in­vi­ta­tion. If I were he, I would an­chor to his poor health as a rea­son. If he is not well enough to work, then he is prob­a­bly not well enough to travel to Europe.

He should con­tact the bride — not his mother — to say, “I’m so sorry, but I won’t be able to make it home for your wed­ding. I’m very sorry to miss it, but I hope you will send us lots of pic­tures so we can en­joy your day from here.”

His sis­ter, his mother and per­haps other fam­ily mem­bers will pile on the pressure, but you both need to stay calm and po­lite, and re­spond, “We know you are dis­ap­pointed, but there is no way around this. We hope it is a beau­ti­ful day for you.”

DEAR AMY >> I had a tiny 12-year-old Chi­huahua. I had her for eight years, but a month ago, I gave her to a friend, be­cause I was gone all day and it wasn’t fair to the dog.

But now I miss her so much! I’m not away as much as I was — I’m home more now.

Is it wrong for me to ask for the dog back? My friend prob­a­bly wouldn’t give her back any­way. She has al­ready told me how much she adores her, but I’m won­der­ing what you think?

— Lonely With­out Her DEAR LONELY >> I won­der what was re­ally go­ing on that you sur­ren­dered this el­derly dog to your friend. But yes, at this point, if things are dif­fer­ent in your house­hold, you should at least ask if your friend would give her back.

If the dog seems wellad­justed to both house­holds, your friend might opt for a sort of joint cus­tody ar­range­ment, where you have the dog dur­ing times when she is away, and visa-versa.

DEAR AMY >> I am con­cerned about your ad­vice to “Work­ing on it in the Mid­west,” who wanted to make amends for a drunken sex­ual as­sault he com­mit­ted in col­lege. I couldn’t be­lieve that you ac­tu­ally sug­gested he should turn him­self into po­lice!

I am a lawyer. He could be fac­ing years of jail time! You should have sug­gested he seek le­gal coun­sel be­fore fol­low­ing your ter­ri­ble ad­vice!

— Con­cerned DEAR CON­CERNED >> In my an­swer, I wrote: “Are you pre­pared to face the pos­si­ble le­gal con­se­quences (in­clud­ing be­ing charged with a crime and/or sued) for ad­mit­ting guilt for what you’ve done?”

I in­tended that as a (per­haps too sub­tle) sug­ges­tion for him to do his due dili­gence and un­der­stand all of the con­se­quences.

DEAR AMY >> My in-laws cur­rently live six hours away. I like it that way.

They keep talk­ing about mov­ing to our town, but this would be at the cost of our re­la­tion­ship.

They’re lovely peo­ple in small doses, but we lived near them for a year when I had my first child, and Amy — it was aw­ful. They of­ten don’t re­spect

bound­aries, and make ev­ery­thing about them­selves.

My fa­ther-in-law can be es­pe­cially ob­nox­ious. He fights with me when he’s drink­ing (which is every night).

My hus­band agrees with me about his folks, but it usu­ally falls on my shoul­ders to stand up to them. We’re happy where we are — that’s why we moved!

They feel like their old­est daugh­ter and son-in­law (who live near them now) don’t have time for them any­more. The thing is — nei­ther do I.

I would pre­fer to see them on our planned short trips two or three times a year.

I want to tell them to stay where they are, but I don’t know how to do that.

— Happy at a Dis­tance

If your fa­ther-in-law is a bel­liger­ent al­co­holic, your mother-in-law might need more help or at­ten­tion than you re­al­ize.

DEAR HAPPY >> Your in-laws seem to be fish­ing for en­cour­age­ment, but in sit­u­a­tions like this, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that you don’t have to bite every hook that dan­gles.

If they ex­plic­itly ask you what you think of the idea of them mov­ing to your town, ask them a se­ries of ques­tions be­fore you re­spond: Why do you want to move? What are you hop­ing for? What fac­tors are in­flu­enc­ing your think­ing? Just feel them out. Af­ter lis­ten­ing to them, you should re­spond by be­ing com­pletely hon­est: “We all en­joy our vis­its with you, but I in par­tic­u­lar strug­gled when we

lived close by be­cause I felt you didn’t re­spect our bound­aries, and I of­ten felt crowded out. Liv­ing at a dis­tance has been bet­ter for our re­la­tion­ship, cer­tainly from my per­spec­tive. I don’t know if mov­ing here will achieve your goals.”

If your fa­ther-in-law is a bel­liger­ent al­co­holic, your mother-in-law might need more help or at­ten­tion than you re­al­ize. Your hus­band and his sis­ter should take a fresh look at their do­mes­tic sit­u­a­tion to hon­estly dis­cern if they are OK. The im­pact of his drink­ing will change over time, and you should all as­sume that the sit­u­a­tion at their home might be de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, which is why they are look­ing for a change. An el­der hous­ing com­mu­nity might be a good fit for them.

DEAR AMY >> I liked your rec­om­men­da­tions to “Not Quite Nour­ished,” un­til you ad­vised them to bring a meat dish to their veg­e­tar­ian rel­a­tive’s house if they wanted to eat meat.

I’m a life-long veg­e­tar­ian and would never want meat served at my ta­ble.

— Veggie for Life

DEAR VEGGIE >> Many veg­e­tar­i­ans re­sponded sim­i­larly. “Not Quite Nour­ished” de­scribed all of the fam­ily’s young chil­dren as “om­ni­vores,” and so I as­sumed (per­haps in­cor­rectly) that meat was some­times served at th­ese homes.

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