Life Advice



Ask Amy: Conflict aversion leads to tough breakup

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Few people enjoy conflict. But mature people (like you) understand that conflict is inevitable — and often leads toward growth.

And (paraphrasing my mother, here): Being in a loving relationship is not supposed to be quite so much work.

Dear Amy: My mother-in-law is a very sweet, kind and generous woman who hosted a large family gathering for 20 people, despite COVID restrictions in her community.

While the (catered) food was being warmed in the oven and on the stovetop, she stuck her finger right into the food in the stovetop pan. She licked her finger clean and then repeated this with casseroles in the oven.

I was hopeful that the heat of the stove and the oven would kill any virus or bacteria with which she contaminated the food.

My question is, what could I have kindly said to help her understand that her actions rendered the food she was serving extremely unappetizing? I wouldn't want to hurt her feelings, but she doesn't seem to understand that her behavior is gross and unacceptable.


— Lost my Appetite

Dear Lost: You state (with implied disapproval) that your mother-in-law defied COVID restrictions and hosted a large indoor gathering.

You chose to attend this gathering.

Post-holiday, COVID seems to be spreading mainly through these indoor family gatherings.


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