Exclusion From a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Dear Annie: My brother has been dating a woman for several years, and they recently became engaged. I do like her, but here is my issue: She is another nationality, and her family (in another country) does not like her dating a "white guy." They refer to him as "white trash," though he is well-educated and makes good money.
She has a very active Facebook page and posts pictures of her dogs, her friends, pictures of herself -- not him -- from vacations they take together. But not once, ever, has she mentioned my brother or posted a picture of them together. It's as though he does not exist. When I asked her why she excludes him from postings, she says she doesn't want to upset her family.
I do not want to attend this wedding but don't want to offend my brother. Am I wrong to be this upset that his fiancee seems ashamed to publicly acknowledge him? -- He Deserves Better
Dear He Deserves Better: It sounds to me like you're a protective sister who only wants what's best for your brother and, ultimately, your family. He is lucky to have someone looking out for him the way you do.
Take your concerns to the one being impacted: your brother. This situation upsets you, but it might not be one of his deal breakers. See what he says when you mention his lack of presence on her social media and ask how that makes him feel. Tell him what it looks like from an outside perspective.
Your brother is likely well aware of his fiancee's family's disapproval and might be OK with being excluded online if it makes real life offline less stressful for him and his fiancee. Hopefully, your future sister-in-law's family will get the chance to spend time with your brother in person down the road and learn his heart and his character through and through. After all, no matter what we share or how often we post online, it'll never tell the whole story of who we are.
Dear Annie: Regarding "Full-Grown Adult," the 38-year-old who left an abusive relationship to move back home with her mother. Perhaps she needs to see that she moved from one abusive controlling relationship right back into another. She likely grew up in a home where there was controlling behavior that led her to choose someone who was also controlling. In an effort to retain control, abuse develops. A way out is to recognize controlling behaviors in others (and ourselves) in order to change ourselves. Not only spouses, but family and friends. A good motivation for her might be that she is allowing her children to learn that this behavior is "normal" as well. Until the pattern is seen, it cannot be changed.
An excellent resource is a book "Stop Controlling Me! What to Do When Someone You Love Has Too Much Power Over You" by Richard J. Stenack Ph.D. She should also get in touch with her local domestic abuse center or by calling the domestic abuse hotline at 800-799-SAFE.
I broke the pattern, and she can, too. Hope this helps. -- Concerned
Dear Concerned: Thank you for your valuable perspective. It's true that the mother of "Full-Grown Adult" is showing controlling behavior, and this might be an indicator of further abuse. The resources you suggest will surely be helpful to her and/or to other readers who suffer due to controlling spouses, friends or family members.
"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 http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.