Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My husband's sister-in-law's posts on Facebook are extremely offensive, insulting and aggressive, often personally directed at those who do not agree with her. She is bigoted, mean and always angry. After multiple gentle attempts to explain how her words made her sound, I eventually "unfriended" and blocked her. I am not alone in our family in doing so. She now pointedly snubs me and these others at family gatherings. As she was always unpredictable and occasionally offensive in person as well, I feel no loss, but my husband is uncomfortable and wants me to "make up" with her. This is a woman who has called me a "witch" for allowing my kids contact with Harry Potter books/movies, says my gay friends are inhabited by "familial demons," accuses my daughter's Muslim employer of being a terrorist, proudly calls herself an anarchist, says she is ready to shoot anyone who is not "on her side of the fence" with her gun (she really has one) and so on. If anyone actually tries to engage with her, she will spam them with emails and text messages. I believe she may be mentally ill. My husband says, regardless, "family is family." When we have visited his brother and her in the past, he would go off with his brother and have a nice time, leaving me alone with this nut job to walk on proverbial eggshells. Since the Facebook incident, and her ensuing snub, I am relieved to be unburdened of the connection. I have told my husband he is welcome to visit his long-suffering brother solo. Am I being unreasonable?
Free at Last
DEAR FREE: Your reaction seems reasonable. Now that you are relieved of the burden of regular contact with her, you should assume a neutral attitude toward and about her. If this family connection is so important to your husband, perhaps he would like to spend more time with his sister-in-law in order to influence and be supportive of her. If she is mentally ill, compassion is called for, but she should also take responsibility for the consequences of her statements and actions.
DEAR AMY: I have been in a same-sex relationship for the past 15 years. Our families have accepted our domestic partnership respectfully. I'd like to think that we have gone beyond that and that we have "bonded" with each other's families as well. My partner's father passed away today. I knew the kind man and even hosted him here at our house when he wanted to leave his small farm in Idaho to stay a week in the big city of Los Angeles visiting his son. Assumptions can be ugly. I "assumed" I would accompany my partner to Idaho to pay our last respects at his funeral. However, my partner's mother said, "I don't think it would be a good idea" for me to go to the funeral. Her reason is that her extended family would be present and I guess I would be an embarrassment to her. I did not raise a stink in light of the circumstances. I respectfully understood and accepted. I have a great relationship with my partner's three sisters, albeit, a long-distance one. My question is this: Should I email them all and tell them the truth or should I stay quiet and have them believe I was too busy and involved in my own life to travel up there to pay my last respects?
Feeling Kinda Bummed
DEAR BUMMED: Your partner should quietly tell his sisters that his mother asked you to stay away and that you have regretfully respected her wishes. You should follow up with the sisters (and your partner's mother), to share some memories about their father/husband and express your affection for him, and your sympathy for their loss.
DEAR AMY: Responding to your statement to "New Stepmom," I happen to be a very successful stepmother, birth mother and adoptive mother. It is not at all complicated. I love all of my children and let them know that I enjoy their presence in my life. Love is always the answer.
DEAR ANNETTE: Love is easy to talk about but sometimes hard to achieve. I applaud your success.