Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I am a woman who has been divorced for three years, after a very long marriage. While I did instigate the divorce, we were both unhappy and it was amicable. I’ve been in a relationship with a very kind, supportive man for more than two years. He doesn’t live in my hometown, so we travel back and forth to see each other. He is also recently divorced, and when I met him he was having a very hard time adjusting to his new life. It was a long time before he was ready to meet any of my family members. He is much better now and has a good relationship with my children. The problem is my siblings, their spouses and my mother. They act very distant toward the two of us. I might also add that I’m not here to help with elder care as much as my siblings are, and I think they resent me for it. My boyfriend is not included in family/holiday celebrations, but my ex-husband is often invited. My ex is not invited to every family gathering, but even when he is not, my boyfriend is also not invited. Some of them act like he does not exist. Last year, I invited my ex and my boyfriend to a holiday dinner that included my family. I thought it went well. I guess I was wrong about that. They do not appear to want to give my new boyfriend a chance, and he has done nothing wrong. It hurts my feelings. How should I handle this problem?
DEAR RESENTFUL: You note that it was a “long time” before your boyfriend was ready to meet your family — perhaps they are aware of this and are reacting to his initial wariness.
You should also assume that they simply do not know him very well. I gather that you are spending time traveling to be with him when you could be helping other family members with elder care. This is another factor, and another possible reason your family members have not been welcoming. They may see this long-distance relationship as taking precedence over your at-home responsibilities.
The solution is for him to travel to your hometown and for him to spend time with you in your familial setting, and for the two of you to step up as partners to integrate into your family’s life by being helpful caregivers, whenever it is your turn. You should invite your family to join you two for casual outings, as well as holidays, so they can see that you two are really together and committed to being active, reliable and useful family members.
DEAR AMY: I work in a multitenant office building. There are several women who work on my floor who talk on their cellphones the entire time while using the restroom. I cannot understand how someone would want another person to hear what they are doing in the restroom. There are only four stalls in the restroom, so it is likely that the person on the other end of the phone may also hear what I and others are doing in the restroom too. I find this behavior inappropriate and inconsiderate of others. Can you suggest how to address this?
Prefer to Pee in Private
DEAR PREFER: This puts a new spin on the phrase, “Taking care of business.”
Everybody knows that toilet time is texting time. Why make (or take) calls?
You might make your own statement by doing some conspicuous toilet flushing. When you are done and washing your hands, call out to the occupied stalls, “Can you take your calls in the hallway, please?!”
I’m sure readers will enjoy weighing in.
DEAR AMY: As a healthy, active 91-year-old, I am outliving most of my long-term friends with whom I’ve kept in touch, at least through the annual Christmas card. On a rare occasion, I will be notified of the death of one of my friends, but most often, I’m left to wonder about them when I no longer hear from them. Could you remind the survivors of a loved one to go through the address book of the deceased and send a notice to his/her friends? This doesn’t have to be done immediately but would certainly be appreciated at any time.
DEAR SURVIVOR: Great advice. This can be a tough and painful job for surviving family members, but it is necessary.