DEAR AMY: During the holidays, my fiancé and I attended a party. Throughout the course of the evening a friend’s husband was overly flirty with me, and during the typical polite hug goodbye, he grabbed my chin and planted a kiss square on my lips. I shoved him away, gave him a few choice words and left quietly. I didn’t want to ruin the evening with a scene. Here’s my dilemma: My fiancé and I are getting married this summer, and there is no way we want this man to attend our wedding. I feel disrespected, and I also don’t trust that he won’t do something else inappropriate — to me or another guest. I know I missed the opportunity of letting my girlfriend know what happened in a timely manner, but I was afraid to approach her, and I worried this would disrupt their family’s holiday. She and I have known each other for close to 20 years but don’t have a very close friendship. Still, her absence from the guest list will be obvious and met with many questions. Do you have any suggestions as to how to approach this, other than turning back time?
DEAR WORRIED: Your account of this incident conveys why women don’t come forward in the moment: Even though you pushed this guy away, you took on responsibility for not “making a scene.”
As your friend’s husband, this man would normally be included in a wedding invitation, but in this case, rather than omit inviting her altogether, you should consider inviting her, but letting her know that unfortunately, due to her husband’s behavior toward you at this holiday party, he is not welcome to accompany her. You can then expect her to decline your invitation.
This will not be easy. It requires that you do all of the things now that you avoided previously: offering an honest account of your experience, and explaining the consequence.
This might be quite painful for your friend to hear. She might double down, defend her guy’s actions, downplay the impact on you and back away from your kinship. However, she has a right to know how her husband behaved and how it has affected you (and now, her). This might be a wakeup call for both of them; if cocktails fueled this behavior, he should reconsider his intake.
DEAR AMY: I have a friend group of five women. Together, we have 10 married sons (our sons don’t know each other). We were all very caring parents, enjoying close relationships with our sons. We saw that all of them had stable homes, lots of love and good educations. Once they got married ALL of us have endured various amounts of exclusion, rudeness and isolation. We all feel like we have to walk on eggshells. One member of the group has NEVER even been allowed to see one of her son’s children. How devastating. We don’t sit around and badmouth our daughters-in-law when we are together, but we do support and offer opinions to each other as issues come up. We would all LOVE to have these smart, beautiful women closer to us, but instead, we seem to lose our sons. I’m very confused about why so many of that generation are so uncaring to their in-laws. Most of us MIL’s are really nice people. We treated our own in-laws with gratitude for raising the men we ended up marrying. What do you think?
DEAR MIL: This dynamic seems to crop up even before the wedding, when grooms become marginalized. Then, in most families, women still assume the great bulk of the work of household and parenting.
Naturally, these women who run the household and control the family schedule are more oriented toward their own parents than their partner’s.
Some of this dynamic will change when men step up and assume more of a role at home. This is definitely happening, but until it does, parents of sons should ask them to be more proactive about evening out family time.
DEAR AMY: You made a wise statement in a recent column: “Anxiety doesn’t make people mean.” Years ago, my psychiatrist wouldn’t allow the excuse that having anxiety and depression gave me the freedom to be rude. She said I had “poor social skills” and had to learn to get along better and act like an adult — to take responsibility for my own behavior. Your advice to “Anxious” was spot-on.
DEAR GROWN-UP: Very sage advice from your psychiatrist. And you were wise to follow it.