Ask Amy: My Step-Brother Said I Married the Wrong Person

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dear Amy: I am shocked and hurt by the comments my brother-in-law made to me during the recent otherwise wonderful trip my husband and I took with him and my sister.

He’s the healthiest physically of us all, but maybe he’s losing his filters like us old people sometimes do.

We live in separate states and have traveled extensively as a couple over the past 15 years, usually twice a year. The two couples have been married for 50 years. We have a good time together. I thought we always enjoy each other’s company. My sister and I are best friends.

At the end of our last trip (out of listening to others), my brother-in-law insisted that I had married the wrong person. I was shocked, I denied that, but I was too surprised to ask him why he thought that.

I love my husband. He is a wonderful, loving, kind and generous man. He would be extremely hurt by this comment, since he believes that the two men have developed a close friendship for more than 50 years.

I don’t know what to say to my husband and my sister. I was obsessed, perhaps grieving, by that comment. I wonder if we should stop traveling together, even though it would be very painful for at least three of us.

What do you think of that? What should I say or do?

Saddened: The first thing you should do is consider why this comment caused you such grief. My view is that many very happily married people are married to partners that others would consider ‘bad’.

Confronted with this unsolicited opinion after 50 years of happy marriage could inspire you more laughter than sorrow. Your brother-in-law is wrong, and you took the opportunity at the time to tell him. Good for you!

You have a burning desire to learn why he said that, but ask yourself: what good would it do to hear a recitation of your husband’s ineptitude?

Also keep in mind that this comment does not mean that your brother-in-law does not like your husband; just that in his (imperfect) and perhaps fleeting opinion, you should have married someone else.

I think you should attribute this comment to the lowered filter of an elderly person. (Is it possible he’s carrying a torch for you?)

Considering all the variables, if you still feel compelled to ask about this, do so (not through your sister). He’s likely to deny – or not remember – making the comment that caused you so much angst.

dear Amy: I have included a family Christmas letter with my Christmas cards for over 30 years now. It’s fun, and it’s something I like to do.

My husband and I are divorcing this year after more than 40 years of marriage. Should I mention it briefly in my letter? Christmas is a time of hope and celebration. Many people who receive my cards only hear from me once a year, so honestly, I don’t know if I should bring this up. Thanks for your insight.

Bad news: Yes, Christmas is a time of hope and celebration, but Christmas letters are also often chronicles of family transitions and passages. There’s no one way to compose one of these annual holiday letters, but my favorites are ones that include a photo or two, along with a brief rundown of the family’s year, including births, deaths, graduations, job transitions and recognitions of challenges, as well as moments of joy.

If you choose to disclose the breakdown of your very long marriage in this letter, you can expect to hear from some of these correspondents once a year, expressing interest or concern. Do you want to hear them? And will you be disappointed if you don’t?

If you choose to include this item, you could write something like, “Sad news here, as Jim and I are divorcing after four decades of marriage. It’s a bittersweet time for our family, but we’re moving forward with as much grace as possible.

dear Amy: Oh, this question of “uncertain mom” really brought back some unpleasant memories for me. Like Unsure, my mom would often tell me how “better” I’d look wearing makeup.

I know she wanted to be encouraging; unfortunately, his words had the opposite effect.

Free: I hope that kind of pressure is a thing of the past.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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