Dear Amy: Three years ago, I successfully followed your advice on how to manage my boyfriend’s codependent family.
We are now engaged! Through therapy my fiancé and I have learned to navigate their emotional immaturity and have grown immensely as a couple as a result.
I am now wondering about wedding planning. What are the expectations around including in-laws who do not act as though they want to be included?
Immediately after getting engaged my family began expressing excited enthusiasm for our plans.
His mother could not even crack a smile on the day of the engagement.
His family has not mentioned the engagement a single time since it happened (and we see them every week).
It seems incredibly awkward and presumptuous to say to his parents, “Would you like to be included financially in the wedding planning?” or even, “We have started to plan, would you like to be involved?” when his family did not even congratulate us on the engagement.
Including them means conflict … but so does excluding them.
What should we do?
— Mixed Emotions
Dear Mixed: You seem averse to awkwardness, and yet — so much of wedding planning is awkward.
Understand that whenever you accept someone’s money (or advice), there is a likelihood that they will interpret this as you basically “partnering” with them. Decide if you really want to ask for or accept money from people who have extreme boundary issues, and are also completely disinterested.
Is his family interested in hosting a rehearsal dinner (a traditional role taken on by the groom’s family)? You could ask them if they’re interested in taking that on and hosting it.
Otherwise, invite them as guests, save seats for them in the front of the venue, include them in photographs, and respect the boundaries you’ve established with as neutral an attitude as you can manage.
Remember that you and your guy are a team, and stick with your therapy — it will help you through this highly charged time.
Dear Amy: With the holidays coming up, it is time for something I detest — GROUP HOLIDAY TEXTS!
I’d like to announce that if you are really serious about wishing ME a Happy/Merry/Whatever, please take just a few seconds to send something personal to me instead of grouping me together with everyone in your contacts list.
You get that initial text, then your phone continues to go off all day long with people you don’t even know replying “You too,” “Happy holidays to you and your family,” “We need to get together soon!”
One day I got 46 responses from people and I have no idea who they are.
Am I the only one who feels this way?
My wife thinks I’m being a Scrooge.
Dear Scrooge: I’m now wondering if Charles Dickens’ original inspiration for the Scrooge character came from receiving 46 texts on Christmas Eve from people he didn’t know.
I admit that I did not know until now that Merry Christmas group texts are a “thing.” And now that I do know they’re a thing, I pray to baby Jesus that I don’t land on anyone’s list.
You should do a quick internet search to see how to remove yourself from these chains, or “mute” the conversation.
Dear Amy: I’m responding to “Stuck,” the woman who wanted to take a trip to the Scottish Highlands with her sister, but her husband wouldn’t let her.
My wife and I have been together for 56 years. She has three sisters and had three first cousins. All were raised together.
My wife has spent her past three birthdays and wedding anniversaries in memory care with dementia.
But for a number of summers, she and some of the sisters and cousins went on “girls’ trips.”
The pictures I have show my wife in all of her summer beauty in Michigan, North Carolina, and other locales.
My wife had our vehicle, a charge card for gas, lodgings and meals, as well as my blessings and cooperation.
She was happy, and so was I.
Life can seem very short. Many opportunities come but once — and then disappear.
Illness has no calendar for good times.
“Stuck” should get unstuck, tell her husband to take a hike, and see what life has in store for her.
I wish the girl I first saw at 18 were here for more “girls’ trips” — and me!
— Mark in Missouri
Dear Mark: I have a feeling that when you close your eyes, you still see your wife “in all of her summer beauty.” Thank you for this.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org 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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