DEAR AMY: I have a wonderful boyfriend who is kind, understanding and shares my values.
We work at a nonprofit medical center. Many of our dear friends and colleagues are LGBT.
The problem is that we've not even (officially) begun planning our wedding and I'm already begging to elope. You see, I have an uncle who borders on being a zealot.
At my niece's baby shower he scolded my brother's girlfriend for being a "sinner" for having a baby out of wedlock. At my cousin's wedding while the bride was walking down the aisle he screamed, "And in my Bible it says it is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!" I've asked my mother if I could not invite him if I ever got married. She advised me to marry out of town.
The man is awful. He's been divorced three times and is currently on marriage number four, but he is quick to judge everyone around him. Loudly.
I hate the thought of him making anyone else I care about uncomfortable on what should be a happy day.
Are we allowed to leave him off the guest list, or should I start shopping for plane tickets to our destination wedding?
Worrying About Wedlock
DEAR WORRYING: I often advocate for wedding inclusion -- even with difficult or challenging family members (or family members you just "don't like") -- but my intention is to remind people that "family" is not about insisting on perfection, but about accepting flaws and foibles.
However, if your uncle has a track record of disrupting family gatherings to the extent of "screaming" during a wedding service, then you shouldn't include him now. He has proven himself incapable of keeping his trap respectfully shut during an important ceremony.
Your choices are to let this bully chase you out of town; to have your wedding locally and not invite him (you'll feel liberated if you take this route); or to be completely transparent and for you and your intended to say to him, "You've been disruptive in the past, and if you are disruptive or disrespectful toward our guests you will be asked to leave." You could hire security (or assign a willing and able party guest) to be his special escort. Given these limitations, he may choose to stay away. If so, the rest of the family will high-five you all the way up the aisle.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have lived in our current house for many years.
The retired couple across the street bought a darling puppy about 15 months ago. Their yard, landscaping and lawn are incredibly beautiful. The neighbor keeps it looking like a golf course. (The rest of the neighborhood is a lot more casual.) He started walking his puppy across the street to our strip of grass below a hedge at the end of our yard. He and the puppy would walk back and forth a number of times and then return back home. He is actually using our lawn strip for a doggy potty! He collects the droppings and takes them away, but now other leashed dogs become interested in the same area of our lawn. They sniff around and many spray and leave their own scent, drawing yet more dogs.
How can I approach this without stuttering or hurting feelings? I have no clue.
DEAR NEIGHBOR: I can't help you with stuttering, but if you are genuinely so nervous about making a very reasonable request ("Would you mind not bringing your adorable dog onto our lawn to do his business?"), you could get a sign to post in that spot, notifying all dog walkers of your restriction. I looked into this for you and have found a business called -- wait for it -- dogpoopsigns.com.
DEAR AMY: In my world, when you accept a ride of many hours' duration from an individual who is using her own car (as was the case with "Not Cheap, Just Curious"), passengers don't split the cost of gas -- they pick up the entire tab. The car owner is extending a lot of effort and expense, and the least people can do is to pay for the gas.
Grateful for Rides
DEAR GRATEFUL: I agree.