Life Advice



Silence Isn't Always Suspect

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: About five years ago, my nephew, who was working in a foreign country, married a local woman. They visited my nephew's father in the U.S. a few times. During one visit, I gave my nephew's wife a brooch that belonged to my grandmother to welcome her to the family. She's a lovely young woman, and I wanted her to feel comfortable, mainly because my nephew's mother -- my sister -- passed away several years ago.

I recently learned that my nephew and his wife divorced. He will be moving back permanently to the U.S. soon.

I would love to have the brooch returned. I don't think my nephew's ex-wife would really want to keep it. However, I realize that this was a gift to her, and she is not obligated to give it back.

Should I ask my nephew to bring the brooch back? Or should I let it go? I have let my nephew know that he has my full support, and I'd like that to continue. -- Anxious Aunt

Dear Anxious: Gifting the brooch was a courteous welcoming gift -- but, more importantly, it was a symbol of love and support for your nephew. In that regard, mission accomplished.

The brooch belongs to your nephew's ex-wife now. What's done is done. You can take comfort in the knowledge that your nephew won't ever have to wonder whether you have his back. And even though the brooch won't be returning to the U.S., you should celebrate the fact that your nephew will be.

Dear Annie: I live with my girlfriend (60) and love her a lot. She and I have a great relationship. We have lived together for three years and are discussing purchasing a home together.


How can I learn to let her be quiet and not feel like she should be like me and talk a lot? I can be quiet at times, but I usually am when I am worried or have something I am ruminating on.

Should I learn to do my own thing to ease my worries when she is quiet? What is the best solution for us both? -- Terry

Dear Terry: Your girlfriend's silence is not necessarily a sign of anger, distress or disinterest, as it might be for you, but instead can be one of thinking, exhaustion or purely enjoying the moment. If her quietness is ever hard to read, ask her how she's feeling to make sure.

Instead of worrying during her bouts of silence, settle in and enjoy it with her. A couple that can sit comfortably and savor each other's presence without needing to fill the silence speaks volumes.


"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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