Volatile aunt makes niece rethink wedding invite
Dear Amy: My aunt has a long history of being volatile with the family. She runs very hot and cold. I have very fond memories of her when I was a child. As a young adult, she has been generous toward me.
However, I also know many of these memories have hidden plot lines in which she has bullied my mother (her sister).
About three years ago my stepfather and grandfather died and suddenly my mom had to share a lot of responsibility with my aunt. The stress of caring for my grandma seems to have brought out the worst in my aunt.
It seems that each week she wounds my mother -- and my mother is NOT the sensitive type.
We have often just ignored or sidestepped my aunt in order to keep peace in the family. She always keeps at least one sister or cousin as a close ally, which keeps things messy. She responds to criticism or argument with cruelty and insults, and eventually the severing of ties.
I recently got engaged. I want all of my family members to be there and to be happy. Ideally, I would love for my (once) fun aunt to just be kinder to my mother and brother (she is generally nice to me).
Should I NOT invite her, and risk some other guests (who might be aligned with her at that moment) also not coming? Do I call her out on her bullying and risk making things even harder for my mom while caring for her mother -- as she will be blamed for raising a bad kid?
Do I continue to pretend I don't see her being so awful? Help!
-- Broken-hearted Niece
Dear Niece: Invite your aunt to your wedding. Also, call her out, and do so in a firm, respectful way. The wedding invitation and the calling-out will not be related events, although she will likely conflate them.
If you decide to go ahead, the calling-out should look/sound like this: "Auntie, I have so many fond memories of being with you. Thank you for your generosity toward me over the years. But now I see you being unkind toward my brother and mother. I've looked the other way in the past, but I'm not going to do that anymore. I'd love for you to come to my wedding, but if you can't treat my family members with respect, then you might want to stay home."
Understand that if she is confronted, she will most likely not come to your wedding (cheers!). Some family members may ally with her. Others will want to host a parade in your honor. You cannot control any of this. But you won't regret sticking up for your mother.
Dear Amy: I'm confused. A friend, "Michael," and I work out at a small fitness center every day. We used to work in the same office, and we still occasionally have lunch or coffee and have many mutual friends.
Recently, he sent me a text telling me how glad he is that we're friends.
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The other day a friend asked if I had been invited to Michael's party. I have not been invited, and the friend that showed me the invitation isn't as close to Michael as I am.
I'm not really mad; I'm just confused and I feel left out. I haven't said anything to Michael, and I see him every day.
Any suggestions on how I should handle this? It doesn't really make any sense, but I'd like to know why.
-- Confused Friend
Dear Confused: You see "Michael" every day. Yes, you should say something to him. You should process this by assuming that there might have been a mistake or an oversight. If you and Michael have mutual friends, he must have assumed that you would find out about this party.
Say, "Peter told me you were having a party. I don't want to pressure you, but I'm feeling a little left out."
Dear Amy: Thank you for encouraging "Devoted and Caring Parents" to offer her future daughter-in-law some flexibility, understanding and grace around sharing holiday time.
Growing up, my maternal grandparents were divorced, my paternal grandparents still together. The way my father insisted that we split our time rigidly between maternal and paternal, Mom was punished for having divorced parents, and we were punished for having divorced grandparents. Even as a child, I felt this inequity quite strongly.
-- Disappointed Granddaughter
Dear Disappointed: Sometimes, strict equity feels quite unfair.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: email@example.com. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)