Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for 10 years.
We each have two grown children from previous marriages.
My children love and accept my husband as family.
My husband’s children have never accepted me.
I met their father years after their parents divorced, so I was in no way a cause of their break-up.
An example of their behavior toward me is when they visit for Christmas each year, they bring their father a Christmas gift and wish him a Merry Christmas, while they completely ignore me.
I am left sitting there with a feeling of disbelief.
I’ve spoken to my husband about my feelings, but it doesn’t really help.
He says his family is dysfunctional.
What should I do?
— Simply Hurt
Dear Hurt: Your husband’s astute observation is that his family is dysfunctional.
I assume you’re thinking: “That’s right, Einstein.”
But an accurate description is not a solution.
Your husband seems to be passively standing by while his children humiliate you — and in your own home.
You also seem to have lost your own voice.
His children obviously want to have a relationship with him, so he should convey to them that he won’t tolerate this rudeness toward you. If he had done this at the outset of your relationship, they might have been retrained by now.
You’ve asked what you should do about their behavior.
You have absolutely nothing to lose, and so you might take advantage of this post-holiday period to email both of them and say, “I’ve been married to your father for 10 years. I had no role in the breakup of your parents’ marriage, which happened before he and I met. I regret that I’ve been tolerating your rudeness toward me for a decade. I’d like to have a positive relationship with you, but at the very least I do expect you to be polite toward me when you’re a guest in our home.”
Dear Amy: My 98-year-old father died recently.
At the graveside service, our long-time business associate (and family friend) of 45 years would not shake hands with my son’s boyfriend.
My son had to introduce his boyfriend twice before our family friend eventually shook his hand.
I’ve always suspected that he is homophobic, though he has never said anything out loud.
I did not witness the interaction, but I know how disrespected my son felt.
It was an added anguish to an already stressful day.
And of course, I am outraged and want to contact the family friend and question him about this blatant bigotry.
He usually seems to appear kind and thoughtful, in all other interactions.
My question to you is how should I respond/deal with a close business associate and family friend who demonstrates behavior that I believe needs to be called out?
I am considering sending an email to him, but would like your advice.
— Incensed Mother
Dear Incensed: I can think of a couple of legitimate reasons (aside from homophobia) for why someone might choose not to shake someone else’s hand, but your son obviously interpreted this choice as stemming from homophobia — and you do, too.
If you continue to stew on this, you should contact your friend, tell him what your son has told you, tell him that this is upsetting to you, and ask for an explanation.
He might tell you that he didn’t hear your son’s introduction, or that he is reluctant to shake hands these days for fear of passing along or contracting an illness.
You should accept whatever explanation he has offered, with the understanding that you have already conveyed your distress about this.
Dear Amy: Thank you for the comic relief with all of the questions about brides forcing wedding guests to dress a specific way.
Almost 59 years ago, I walked down the aisle to start a life with my hubby.
We were in our late teens.
Naysayers thought we were doomed from the start.
Even my parents disagreed with my choice to marry. I paid for my own modest church wedding.
Afterward, as I looked at the amateur pictures, I caught a glimpse of the pastor’s wife in “curlers.”
She thought there would be a need for a witness at this “teen marriage.” (The church was full.)
We’re still married, and I still smile at that memory.
My advice is for guests to “come as you are,” and to be supportive.
— A Sweet Home Bride
Dear Bride: These goofy questions would be flat-out funny, if they weren’t so oppressively sad.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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