Couple resists pressure to attend family wedding
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.