Chicago, IL

#1 Mar 3, 2013
DEAR AMY: More than 30 years ago my fundamentalist parents did everything they could to prevent my wife and me from marrying (we were atheists).
My brothers either kept neutral or sided with my parents. My wife would have nothing to do with them after we were married.
My parents are now gone. My brothers have since tried to be nice to my wife, but she resists. I visit my brothers’ families by myself.
I understand her position, but I feel she should at least try to be part of the family because they have been more welcoming. I feel she should let bygones be bygones. This is the only bone of contention between my wife and me.-- Want Peace

DEAR PEACE: One of the biggest challenges in family relationships is to grasp (and then truly accept) this reality: You cannot have people’s relationships for them.
Sometimes you can influence or mediate between people to broker a sort of peace, but essentially (and unfortunately) the relationship is really controlled and maintained by the opposing parties.
What this means is that your wife can choose not to accept various olive branches extended her way. She can choose not to forgive people who were once cruel to her. She can passively stay in a state of sadness or anger without trying to change.
It may be that your wife simply does not care. Not seeing them is one less unpleasant item on her list.
You can continue to try to encourage your family, and your wife, to come together. You can encourage each party to try harder (for instance, have your family members actually acknowledge what they did and ask for forgiveness? That would be a start).
But here’s what you can actually accomplish: very little, besides acceptance.
You need to manage your own anxiety over this. You cannot force her to see people, and she cannot force you to stay away.

DEAR AMY:“Helpless” reported that fellow diners were gossiping very loudly and using specific names and situations.
This happened to my husband and me. Our backs were to the obnoxious couple, so with a wink to my honey, I loudly detailed “news” of a disgusting ingrown toenail my elderly uncle had.
The loud gossipers didn’t even slow down, so my clever beau interrupted me with an urgently hushed,“Quiet! They’re talking about Colleen and Rex! I wanna hear more ...”
And with that, the idiots clammed up!-- Worked For Us

DEAR WORKED: I did this one time too. I told a guy next to me (yelling into his cellphone about specifics about a high-profile government issue) that I had written everything down but just want to check the spelling.
Sadly, I don’t think he altered his behavior long term, but it sure felt good.


“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#2 Mar 3, 2013
L1: Maybe they need to apologize to her first before she opens herself up to more pain.

L2: Oh, Amy, you are so clever! sarcasm

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#3 Mar 3, 2013
If the brothers and their families are still devout evangelicals, the risk is they will try to convert your wife with honey where brimstone did not work, or meals may be preceded by ardent and pointed prayer for the sinners in their midst.Their actions have consequences. 30 years is a long time. Let it be.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Wilmington, IL

#4 Mar 3, 2013
1- Remind her that Jesus teaches forgiveness.

2- God forbid any outsiders interrupt YOUR quiet little world...

Rancho Cucamonga, CA

#5 Mar 3, 2013
LW1 - 30 years. You've managed this for 30 years. 30 damn years. Just roll with it now.

Since: Dec 09

Smalltown, Colorado

#6 Mar 3, 2013
LW1 - Your wife dealt with this 30 years ago. Why would she open herself up to more preaching now? Leave her alone.

“What's it to ya?”

Since: Mar 09

Location hidden

#7 Mar 3, 2013
1: Lever her alone. It's her life and she gets to decide who she does/does not associate with...family or otherwise. So...do...you. You want to hang with your family who were either "neutral," or "sided with" your parents? Your choice, just as not hanging out with them is her choice. Period.

Salinas, CA

#8 Mar 3, 2013
Mimi Seattle wrote:
1: Lever her alone. It's her life and she gets to decide who she does/does not associate with...family or otherwise. So...do...you. You want to hang with your family who were either "neutral," or "sided with" your parents? Your choice, just as not hanging out with them is her choice. Period.

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