Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for four years. Even before tying the knot, I noticed that his family always contacted me regarding details for birthdays, get-togethers, celebrations, etc.
I am bombarded with messages from his mother, aunts, grandmother and cousins asking if we will be participating in gift exchanges, to please provide gift lists for my husband and myself, to let us know when holiday dinners are taking place, etc.
Amy, my husband is a responsible guy! These are his family members!
Every year, I try to politely (behind gritted teeth) steer these queries toward my husband. Every year I am sought out (ahem, hunted down) for information.
We are both close with each-others’ families, but early on decided that he would buy gifts, cards, remember birthdays and anniversaries and such for his family, and I would handle the same for my family. Now I’m handling both.
Am I being too sensitive? Does this happen in other relationships, where the family matter details are delegated to the woman? For the sake of my blood pressure, please help!
Dear Stressed: Yes, this gendered treatment does happen, and yes, you are being too sensitive.
Drop the notion that your husband’s family is only seeking your opinion on gifts because you’re a woman. Consider another, more shocking alternative: they like you.
It sounds like these relatives are reaching out because you are part of their family. Keeping special occasions as his-and-hers events is a bold goal, but I know from experience that it doesn’t work; families are messy, and the sooner you drop the idea that each spouse deals exclusively with their own side, the better.
Before your next special occasion, instead of waiting with gritted teeth for these relatives to contact you, you (and especially your husband) should take the initiative and contact them first. You and he could also basically “switch sides,” with him handling your family stuff, and you handling his, and see how that goes.
Dear Amy: Our daughter is a college graduate, working full time and living at home. She has been with her boyfriend for six years, and while he is a “good guy,” he has few aspirations and life goals. He is a college dropout, and has only worked at menial jobs.
My husband and I feel that she is postponing her dreams because of him, and this concerns us. We’ve gently discussed this with her. Sometimes, she has been receptive; other times, defensive.
Other people see this, too (including her siblings). She is the only one who does not see the light. She’ll speak her mind to him, but is also very forgiving. We just want her to reach for her dreams without being held back by him.
We also know that it’s her life and we need to tread carefully, but since she still lives at home, we see it, and it hurts.
We have a great relationship with her and the last thing we want to do is push her toward him. Is there anything we can do to nudge her? Or should we stay silent and let time tell?
Dear Concerned: If it were possible for parents to make children break up with partners the parents don’t like, everybody would do it – and the world as we know it would fold in on itself like a dark star.
It is hard to see someone you care about in a relationship that might not be good for them, but contrary to what romantic comedies tell us, there’s no way to make your daughter see that she picked the wrong guy.
Forget about the boyfriend for a moment and look at everything else in your daughter’s life: She is clearly moving forward, just at a slower pace than you expected. This is not uncommon; graduating from college can be a jarring experience, and many people cling to things that are familiar. That includes old relationships.
Give her a chance to figure things out; she will get there. For now, your only job is to let her grow into her own adulthood and to absorb the consequences for herself.
Dear Amy: “Debating DNA” was wondering about contacting a “secret” half-sibling who had emerged after DNA testing. Thank you so much for understanding the complicated issues surrounding these revelations. Most important (to me) was this: “No matter what anyone thinks about the actions of the parents, the siblings did nothing wrong.”
Dear Grateful: This issue is increasingly common, and I believe that – overall – these revelations have mainly positive endings.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.