Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: A friend of mine who has been single finally found someone. I was really happy for her because she has wanted to be in a committed relationship. She told me two weeks ago that he is 15 years older than she (she is 34) and while that could pose challenges, I was still very supportive. We agreed to a double date in a few weeks’ time with my long-term boyfriend. Then, last night, she told me this guy is actually still married with children. He has told her he wants to start the process of getting a divorce, but for now he lives with his wife and kids, and his wife has no idea he intends to leave. I do not want to meet this guy. I know my friend can date whomever she wants, but I do not want to sit across from someone who is cheating on his wife. It grosses me out. If he was just still legally married but separated, I would not have an issue with this. How do I bring this up?

Grossed Out

DEAR GROSSED OUT: Here’s how you bring this up: “Wow, I feel a little blindsided by your admission that you are engaged in having an affair with a married man. I’m trying not to judge you, and I appreciate your honesty, but I don’t feel comfortable spending the evening with him out on a romantic date. I feel that this involves me in your relationship in a way that makes me uncomfortable.”

You can expect this might lead to a tough conversation between you two, but that would be a natural consequence of her choice. On a side note, if she is eager to be in a committed relationship, this is a very strange path to take, because she is choosing to be with someone who is actually committed to someone else.

DEAR AMY: When my husband and his sister were young, they were very poor. They never got new clothes, new toys, or gifts. They went hungry some days. My family was poor too, although we always had food and clean clothes. We also got one gift every Christmas. Now my husband and I have two daughters. We aren’t rich, but our children want for nothing. We limit toys to educational toys, and stay away from technology — no flashing lights, no loud music and no automatic movable parts. Our oldest child has epilepsy and we avoid these toys for that reason. We have asked family on both sides to understand our rules and everyone respects this. The problem is with my sister-in-law, who ignores this request. She always buys extremely expensive gifts; always the most technologically advanced item she can find. My husband has told me it’s because she wants to make up for the childhood they had. I have always politely accepted and thanked her for every gift given, and with my husband’s approval I return 95 percent of her gifts. I feel guilty. How can I persuade her to stop with the expensive gifts without hurting her feelings?

Dreading Christmas

DEAR DREADING: You and your husband should reiterate your values and limits to his sister, with the assumption that she is probably not deliberately undermining you, but is being extravagant in the only way she knows how. One of the great joys of being an aunt is to be a lavish giver to nieces and nephews. It sounds as if she might not have children; it also sounds as if she doesn’t know yours very well.

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Thank her for her generosity in the past. Tell her again that your children cannot have toys with technology because of your concerns it might trigger a seizure. Ask her if she would like suggestions. Ideas that might appeal to her are a membership for your local children’s museum, subscriptions for a kids’ theater program or funding tuition for a week of camp for the girls.

And tell her the girls would love it if they each received a special book from their aunt.

DEAR AMY: Thank you for your compassionate reply to “Curious,” who wondered why you admitted to having a miscarriage. I wonder why Curious wrote such an insensitive letter in the first place. There are many of us who have suffered a miscarriage, and your reply is clear and correct.

Sandy

DEAR SANDY: Having a miscarriage is not a mistake requiring an “admission.” It’s simply something that happened.