Life Advice



Ask Amy: An in-law is tired of being an ‘out-law’

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I've been married for 36 years.

Whenever we see my husband's family, there would be a point when the "family" would be in one room and the "not-family" in another.

A few years ago, one of his sisters was very ill and needed help. All the siblings pitched in.

She is healthy now, and it made them realize that they wanted to spend more time together.

However, they exclude the "non-family” in these gatherings.

They get together three or four times a year.

My husband and I moved a distance away a few years ago.

They got together just before we moved and celebrated his birthday.

I was not included.

Last year when we traveled for one of these gatherings, I had dinner with a friend, and then waited for 30 minutes for my husband to come out of the restaurant, where he was with his siblings!

He now says I could have joined them, but I know they don't want anyone but siblings.

I have told him that if I travel with him again so he can see his siblings, I will not wait in the parking lot for him!

Should I be more understanding about his time with his siblings?

– Not Family

Dear Not Family: I don’t think it’s that uncommon for siblings to want to get together, and yet there is a balance here where spouses should not be (or feel) deliberately excluded. In my own massive in-law family (13 siblings!), I’ve formed an attachment to the spouses and we occasionally have our own “out-law” get-togethers when the siblings are hanging together.

No, your husband’s siblings should not have had a birthday celebration for him in your town without including you. Your husband is responsible for establishing that he does NOT leave you behind for special occasions.

On the other hand, I can’t imagine waiting in a parking lot, fuming, when you could have simply entered the venue and perhaps joined them for a cup of coffee. You’re an adult. You have the responsibility to treat others as you wish to be treated.

Dear Amy: I have a nephew who is only eight years younger than me.

We were very close as kids, but after college I haven’t seen him much, because he was living several states away.

He is now married, with kids, and works in the medical field.

Last year we were all thrilled when his family moved two hours away.

I had planned a small outdoor party to celebrate my wedding, with 50 guests.

With our large family, the guest list was no easy task.


I personally gave his wife the invitation at a shower, about three months earlier. I invited the kids, too.

I received no response. Nothing at all, not even a Facebook message.

I can’t help but feel hurt, like I am invisible.

I would have been happy with any acknowledgement.

My sister (his mom) told me, the day before the party, that he had just gotten back from a vacation and couldn’t make it.

That was a year ago.

Is this behavior normal now? (No response to Christmas cards, either.)

I am still hurt. I realize I probably shouldn’t take it personally, but it is hard not to.

I had hoped his moving closer would mean that we would reconnect.

How do I move past this hurt?

– Hurt Bride

Dear Hurt: Polite and timely RSVPs have fallen by the wayside.

This is why many hosts are forced to contact those they haven’t heard from two weeks before the event. This is not only frustrating, but also hurtful. Of course you take this personally!

You should reach out to your nephew (not his wife, not his mom, but him). Tell him, “I felt rejected that you and your family never responded to the invitation to my wedding celebration last summer. It’s gnawing at me and I’m wondering – should I take this personally?”

Dear Amy: Kudos to you for the profound response you gave to “Trying Not to Judge.” “The only wisdom I’m able to offer you with complete authority is that no overweight person wants or needs your gaze, your scrutiny, or your curiosity about why they aren’t more like you.”

That sentence was the best response I’ve ever read, and sums up what millions of people with weight issues want to verbalize to insensitive people, who are unable to understand the complexity of weight management, and believe that everyone should look like them.

– Grateful

Dear Grateful: I accept your kudos, and thank you.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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