DEAR ABBY: My best friend is getting married next year, and I am supposed to be the maid of honor. I am Jewish, and she scheduled her wedding on the first day of Passover. This also means her rehearsal dinner will be during my family's first seder.
How do I explain to her that for the first time in my life, she has broken my heart? It seems her family doesn't understand that Jewish holidays are as important as theirs. She is asking me to choose between my beliefs, my family, and our friendship.
What do I say to her, or should I just decline to be in her wedding? With 52 weekends in a year, I feel like she could have found another day.
- Brokenhearted in Boston
DEAR BROKENHEARTED: Your friend was under no obligation to time her wedding date to avoid conflicting with your religious ritual. If you are wise, you will put aside the temptation to lay a guilt trip on her. Explain that you will be unable to be part of her wedding party the same way you explained it to me. Because you are strictly observant, you should make clear to her why this religious observance takes precedence over her wedding.
Adult children tell her to quit her criticizing
DEAR ABBY: As my children have grown older, I have regarded myself as matriarch of the family, giving advice and help where I think it's needed. Lately, though, I'm afraid my relationship with them may have taken a turn for the worse. I can't seem to stop criticizing.
Recently, they sat down with me and told me they dread coming to visit, are sick of my "mother-in-law" treatment of their spouses, and collectively wish I'd check my tongue. I meant well, but my kids are right. The problem is, I'm afraid I can't stop. Trying to hold my opinions back leaves me anxious and depressed.
My family is pretty normal, and I don't want to alienate anyone. But I am having difficulty dialing back these habits and don't know where to turn.
- Critical Matriarch in Utah
DEAR MATRIARCH: When the urge to criticize becomes overwhelming, bite your tongue or leave the room. The only exception would be if you see an impending disaster.
I'll share with you some advice my mother gave me years ago: The most unwelcome advice in the world is that which is unasked for. Take it to heart, and your relationship with your adult children and their spouses may improve.
Birthday cash would help with travel plans
DEAR ABBY: I'm planning to travel to another state in September and trying to save up for the plane ticket. The issue is, I'm going during my birthday. I'd like my family to help me with the cost of the trip, even if it's only $5 to $10, instead of buying me gifts. How do I go about telling them that, instead of gifts, I'd prefer money - without sounding ungrateful or pushy? I just would really like help paying for my trip.
- Family Help
DEAR FAMILY HELP: Because you would prefer cash to tangible gifts, a way to approach this would be to confide your preference in your mother or another close relative, and let that person spread the word. Good luck!