Ask Amy: Engaged woman worries about bullies

FresnoJanuary 28, 2014 

Dear Amy: I have been with my fiancé for four years.

Throughout our relationship, a major source of upset, stress and contention for us is the strong need I feel for him to impress and get along with my family members. They are all difficult and don't get along well with one another, but they love me, consider us "close," and have tried to be supportive.

They have bad-mouthed him and questioned our relationship, and put him down to his face (and behind his back).

I have talked this through with them and was hoping things were improving. However, the day we got engaged, a friend posted the news on Facebook before I could call them. Once I realized this I called over and over and left messages, sent texts, etc. I was devastated, and the fallout has nearly destroyed my fiancé, our relationship and our relationship with my family. They were furious and mean, and now want us to get over it.

The truth is, my fiancé called my mother to ask for my hand a few days prior to asking me, so they knew his plans.

How do we move on from this?

— Lost

Dear Lost: The way you portray this dynamic, your family members are bullies and you are the frightened child cowering in the corner, apologizing for their destructive behavior and begging them to forgive you and treat you well.

There are two effective ways to respond to bullies: Stand up, or avoid. I suggest you do both.

You stand up by drafting a statement, which you should keep on hand for the day when you'll have to use it. You say a version of, "I'm tired of tolerating this treatment. I'm done with it." And then you exit. If your family members behave well, they will be rewarded. If they behave poorly, you should avoid them.

You can change this dynamic, but it requires your willingness to put your own life (and your marriage) at the center of your world. Only people who are respectful and kind get to share your world with you.

Dear Amy: I am an 82-year-old grandmother and take issue with your response to "Put Out," the young mom who was asked to pick up and drop off her parents from the airport a couple of times a year.

If her folks are prosperous and healthy enough to travel, they should spring for a cab. Guilting their daughter into airport runs isn't right.

— Traveling gran

Dear Gran: The response to this letter has been surprising. Younger readers think "Put Out" is being ridiculous. Readers your age say these elders should take care of themselves.

 

You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at askamy@tribune.com, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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