Dear Amy: My wife and I recently bought a beautiful new house that we are very happy with. We moved here in the winter and now that it’s summertime, we are all spending more time out on our decks.
Two of our new neighbors frequently have loud parties outside well past 10 p.m. It is concerning to us because we get up at 5 a.m. for work, and because my mother lives with us and her bedroom is very close to the noise.
We hesitate to say anything because we don’t want to start out on the wrong foot and create bad blood.
It was so loud until so late the other night that I wanted to call the police, but my wife asked me not to. I just can’t believe people would be so inconsiderate. How can we politely get our point across without creating warfare? Should I just put up and shut up?
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An Avid Reader
Dear Avid: If your house is brand new (and not just new to you), your neighbors have never had to think about anyone living where you live.
You should start by assuming that they aren’t aware of how much the sound travels on these otherwise quiet summer nights. Consider the idea that you are simply letting them know.
Don’t use words like “warfare” or “bad blood.” That kind of thinking is needlessly inflaming a situation that might be easily handled.
The next time this happens, if you feel it is safe to do so (I assume it is), you should knock on your neighbor’s door (or call them if you have their number), introduce yourself and say, “Hey, it’s late and the sound really carries. Could your group take it inside, or could you ask your guests to be quieter?”
Check for the sound ordinances where you live. Many places restrict loud noises and music after 10 p.m. on a weekday and 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. on a weekend.
If you communicate clearly and respectfully and your neighbors repeatedly party into the night, your next step would be to call the police.
Dear Amy: Is it common for people to get cynical and angry at life as they age? I have known my wife for more than 25 years. When I first met her she was fun and happy, even though she had just left an abusive and terrible marriage.
Now at 61 years of age, she is always complaining about the people she works with, how overwhelmed she is, how she hates working for the idiot owner, and how most of the employees don’t do anything all day.
Her dad was abusive when she was young – always telling her how stupid she was. Her father has since died but she seems to hang onto the past.
When we met 25 year ago, both of us were broke and now we are very well off. She has everything she has always wanted – and more. I often tell her how much I love her, but she always finds something to be miserable about.
She says I treat her like a queen, but she reminds me of an old, cranky and sour person who always looks at the glass as half empty.
I tend to be happy and I have a sunnier disposition, but I worry about her. What can I do?
Sad for my Wife
Dear Sad: It is common for people to get cynical and angry later in life – if they have the sort of background your wife has. Her early experiences have engraved a script of sorts onto her emotions. As she gets older and feels more stressed, she lacks the resiliency – and the tools – to cope.
Please understand that your wife’s problems might be bigger than your love and assurances can tamp down. Tell her, “I’m worried about you. You seem so unhappy all the time. I think it might really help you to talk to a counselor.”
Dear Amy: I really recognized myself in the letter from “Must Love Dogs,” the woman who had developed a strong crush (you called it a “fixation”) on a man at the dog park.
I am a perfectly rational person, and yet I had a similar experience with someone at work. I never thought I would say this, but staying away and limiting contact eventually did break the “spell,” just as you suggested.
When I look back, I don’t know what I was thinking!
Dear Not Crushed: I think this is probably more common than most people realize.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.