Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I’ve been married for 10 years to a wonderful man. I have a loving relationship with his mother. When my sister-in-law was alive, our families regularly shared good times. Since her death (about five years ago) my husband’s brother has excluded us. A couple of years ago my husband and I researched different living options for his mother, as did the other side of the family. It was total confusion. In the end my husband’s solution prevailed, honoring his mother’s wishes. In the meantime, he and I received numerous incendiary emails from that side of the family. Last year my brother-in-law remarried. We were not invited to the wedding. We would have attended. This past weekend my mother-in-law implied that my brother-in-law and his wife would like to be invited to our weekend home, which is in a beautiful resort community. I blurted out, “They’ll be invited when it’s a cold day in hell.” My husband was in complete agreement. Knowing my mother-in-law, the message will get back. I can’t take the words back, and I don’t think there’s any chance of repairing the relationship with my brother-in-law. I do worry about the long-standing relationship my husband has with his nieces. Just let things ride?

So Sad to Lose Family

DEAR SAD: You can’t be all that sad about losing family if you would take an (implied) olive branch and basically use it to switch these family members.

If they want to ingratiate themselves to you (in order to have a better relationship, yielding, perhaps, an invitation to your vacation home), then they will have to find a way to reach out to you and your husband directly.

It is possible that your mother-in-law brought up this vacation idea on her own, as a way to try to bring her two sons together.

You and your husband should do your best to stay in touch with these nieces, regardless of your relationship with their parents. These children suffered a huge loss when their mother died. It would be a terrible shame for them to lose yet more family members over a long-standing squabble.

DEAR AMY: Some of my colleagues have ganged up on me and they claim that I don’t have a sense of humor. I am a teacher at an undergraduate program, and my friends, family members even my students really appreciate my funny bone. But then a male colleague told me a joke about a man hitting his educated wife in the face, which I found quite distasteful and not funny at all. He, in a gathering, told everyone that I did not understand his joke because I do not have a sense of humor. One of my other colleagues, whom I have saved from the wrath of the superiors quite a few times, heartily agreed. I am very upset about these two people’s conduct, but I did not say anything to them. Do you think they are right about me?

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Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: I don’t know if your co-worker is right about you, but I do know that you are right about him. Based on your report of this incident, your co-worker’s so-called joke is both unfunny and offensive. His choice to double down and try to engage co-workers in bullying you is unacceptable.

Workplace bullies often use so-called “humor” to dominate and humiliate others. You should stand up to this jerk, and if he continues on in this vein, you should consider asking a “superior” to rain down some wrath, and see if he thinks that’s funny.

DEAR AMY: “Older but Not Wiser’s” tale hit close to home. She really needs to recognize the pain she caused by accusing her niece of stealing from her — and then publicly hanging her on social media and to anyone who’d listen. She seems oblivious to the level of damage she’s caused her niece and her whole family. Something very similar happened in our family and it’s taken more than five years for the family to begin to heal. Upon someone’s death, one family member accused another of stealing from the dying person before she passed away. There were horrible things said back and forth, people’s children and spouses being dragged through the mud, and a couple of relationships were permanently damaged. A lot of it was done through mass emails to the entire extended family. It was horrible. The person was completely innocent, and the relationship is permanently damaged.

Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: The outrage of a public false accusation can only be redressed through a public apology.