This hurt, because he was so special in my life, even if we were now just online friends. I recently found out that his brother has cancer, and it makes me sad. I want to reach out to his family, to see if they are okay. I have not spoken to them since our breakup, so I am not trying to get back into their lives, but I want to see if they need anything, as they are very sweet people. How can I help?
Bittersweet Breakup: I am not sure why your ex unfollowed you on Instagram, but if you post photos of yourself dancing, then he might not have wanted to see them. “Chet” might also be in a new relationship with someone who does not want (or does not want him) to see your photos. Or he might be ready to really move on, and for now, anyway, this will involve more distance from you.
Your concern about his brother, which I assume is genuine, seems also to be about you and your sadness over losing this connection with “Chet.” You have not been in touch with these family members for about three years. It is appropriate now to respect his boundary. If you know his brother or any other family members, or see their postings on social media, you could send a private message (or an old-fashioned card) to let them know you have been thinking about them.
Dear Amy: I grew up in a fractious household. It was loud and disorganized, but my parents (first-generation Americans) worked hard and my four siblings and I all went to college and are successful and happy people. We are a very close, loving and loyal family. I have been married now for five years to a man I met in graduate school.
His upbringing was just about the opposite of mine. His parents are quiet, soft-spoken people. They are very nice and private. My parents love one another very much, but they tend to squabble and pick at one another, no matter where they are, and in our household, this was just normal. We would pick on each other, have arguments (sometimes loudly), and then forgive one another and move on.
The holidays are coming up and my folks will be visiting for Thanksgiving dinner, along with my husband’s parents (and some other family members). My husband characterizes the dynamic of my parents as “fighting.” It makes him uncomfortable. I assume it makes my in-laws uncomfortable. I wonder if you have any suggestions for how to manage this. It is just one day, but I am nervous. I want everyone to have a good time. Thoughts?
Nervous Newlywed: My main suggestion is that you should take care to design this day so that your folks and in-laws get to know one another as individuals. Split up the couples by giving them different roles before dinner. Your husband might want to take his dad and your father on a short outing, while you do the same with the elder women.
Thoughtfully try to seat your guests next to others you believe might bring out their better qualities (do not seat couples next to one another). Do what many families do at Thanksgiving and ask your guests not to discuss politics. Ask your guests if they would each like to give a short toast, going around the table and outlining something they are thankful for. This is a basic divide-and-conquer technique.
If your folks start to squabble, interrupt the dynamic by asking one to help you with a task in another room. I hope that with time your husband grows to understand the relationship style of your folks as “living loudly” versus “fighting.”
Dear Amy: “Not His Mother” wrote on the terrible kitchen hygiene of her husband, which was attracting mice. She should call a pest control service to do an inspection and service call. Without telling him. Hand him the receipt and tell him that is what it will cost for them to keep out the vermin and insects he is inviting into the house. His messiness has a price!
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.