D ear Amy: I have seven brothers and sisters. One of my brothers waited to get married until his mid-40s. Before marrying, he was happy and everybody loved him. Unfortunately his wife turned out to be a shrew and turned him into a beaten-down and unhappy man. She found fault with almost everyone in our large family and has kicked my brother out of the house twice. For the last four years she has refused to attend any of our family functions. My brother has attended while she stayed at home.
I suggested to my brother that she must have some kind of disorder and needs counseling but, of course, the response was that our whole family had issues and that there was nothing wrong with her.
My mom died four years ago and my dad died last week. At both funerals she was smart enough not to sit with the family. However, she was at my dad’s wake helping my sisters, and just yesterday she showed up for a memorial service for my uncle.
Now that my mom and dad are gone she is suddenly back in the picture! Some of my brothers, sisters and in-laws are forgiving and welcoming her back to the family. My wife and I cannot forget the wrongs she did to my parents and other family members. My daughter was married four weeks ago and we refused to invite her to the wedding. My brother came alone (reluctantly).
My wife and I refuse to forgive and forget. This has caused a rift in the family. Now that she decides she wants to be a part of things, we are supposed to welcome her with open arms?
— Unwilling to Forgive
Dear Unwilling: You and your wife should ask yourselves whose interests are served by your current attitude. Does it make your brother’s life any better when you exclude his spouse?
Given that other family members have moved on, your unforgiving attitude may only serve to further alienate you — not her — from family-related events. Have you noticed that she draws closer and YOU are withdrawing? Does it occur to you that she may be trying to change the dynamic?
The answer now is for you to express yourself clearly and respectfully (“We continue to be upset about how you treated my parents…”) and then — yes — forgive and move on. (You don’t have to forget).
Dear Amy: I walked into the bathroom at 5 a.m. today to find my husband standing in the dark, urinating into the bathroom sink. He said he was “in a hurry.” The toilet was right behind him. He acts like it’s no big deal.
I’ve dropped my pills in the sink and retrieved them; I wash my face in there, etc. Now I don’t even want to use the sink. What can I say to him or what can I do to make him stop?
Dear Revolted: Does your husband need to see the urologist or a neurologist? Does he have a sleep disorder, so he isn’t fully awake when he is doing this? Does your bathroom need a night light?
Urinating in the sink seems needlessly complicated (especially if the bathtub is nearby).
For the sake of argument, let’s say that your husband is a normally functioning and healthy guy who is just in “too much of a hurry” or simply too lazy to turn around and use the toilet. You might be able to retrain him (and protect some of the cleanliness of the sink) by stretching a barrier of plastic wrap tight across the sink before you go to bed. He should catch on soon.
Dear Amy: “A House Divided by Noise” outlined a scenario where a group of teen girls were too loud when they visited the parents’ home.
Your attitude and suggestion that the family should put up with this disruption is EXACTLY what is wrong with teenagers today. Nobody ever says, “Knock it off!”
Dear Disgusted: I don’t think today’s teens are any worse than teens have ever been. And parents can’t tell kids to “knock it off” if the parents are hiding in another room.