DEAR ABBY: My parents were separated for most of my life and divorced 10 years ago. Dad and I don't talk much, but we do get together for special occasions and visits during vacations. Mom and I speak frequently and see each other as often as possible.
My problem is, when I talk about doing things with Dad, she makes me feel guilty for not inviting her - even when my family is going to stay the night at Dad's. And every year on the date of their anniversary, Mom never fails to remind me how long they would have been married that year. It's uncomfortable, and I have told her that, but every year I get the call wondering why I haven't acknowledged their anniversary.
Am I wrong in thinking it's strange to wish someone happy anniversary when the couple is no longer together and hasn't been for a decade? Am I wrong for not inviting her along for the few visits with my dad? I'm at the point where I avoid talking about him, but I can't lie when I'm asked directly what our plans are. How can I stop these uncomfortable conversations?
- Uncomfortable in the South
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: Please stop letting your mother make you feel guilty. You have done nothing wrong. She is acting like she's still married to your father and their divorce is simply a "vacation" he has taken.
If she asks if she can come with you when you visit your dad, an appropriate response would be to suggest she ask HIM that question. And her expecting to be congratulated for the anniversary of a marriage that failed strikes me as bizarre. Because these conversations make you uncomfortable, change the subject or talk with her another time.
Husband's hire has
bad blood with family
DEAR ABBY: My husband owns a restaurant. It's a demanding endeavor, and I help him out by running weekly errands, marketing, and occasionally fronting money for larger purchases or unplanned expenses. Generally, I don't mind. I have years of hospitality experience and some schooling in the field.
For the past few days, I have been fuming because my husband hired a man with whom we have a bad history. He dates my cousin and has been blatantly rude to my family. He has taken advantage of their kindness and turned my cousin into someone she was not before. (She's doing drugs.)
When I asked my husband if he really thought this was a smart choice, he said, "You don't own the restaurant. It's none of your business!" I disagree. Shouldn't I have a say when I help that place function week after week? Or is he right?
- Miffed in Missoula
DEAR MIFFED: When you asked your husband the question you did, it clearly hit a nerve or he wouldn't have become defensive. Because you have been putting money into the business to keep it going, you should be able to offer an opinion about how it is run and have it be respected.