DEAR AMY: Over the last year, my husband has been watching out for an older homeless man, “Bill,” that he sees around his office building each day. My husband brings him a bag lunch almost every day, and has also given him bags of toiletries, winter supplies and the occasional sweater. I’ve been fully supportive, and have helped to pack supplies and lunches on occasion. I have been really proud of the compassion that he’s shown when that’s not typically in his nature. Recently, I noticed that my husband had been putting beer from our fridge into the bag lunches. When I questioned him as to whether that was a good idea, he told me that “Bill” had told him that he was dying of liver cancer, there was nothing anyone could do and that having a few beers was his one last joy in life. I told my husband that I did not support giving Bill alcohol, as that was probably a factor with his illness. My husband argued that Bill should be allowed some happiness at the end of his life, and I should not be so “righteous.” I stopped helping my husband pack lunches for Bill at that point, and I’ve stopped buying beer at the grocery store to keep in our fridge. My husband resents me for this now. He told me that I’m “petty,” and ever since, this has been an issue that causes arguments regularly. I’m pretty sure my husband is now buying beer for Bill at the liquor store. I understand being charitable, but I won’t contribute to a man’s slow death, and I resent Bill for creating this wedge in my marriage. I don’t know what to do anymore. Amy, what do you think?
DEAR DISAPPROVING: You say that your husband is not typically compassionate (nice dig), except when he is.
You wouldn’t give beer to this man (nor would I). In addition to the possible health risks, depending on where you live, I assume that “Bill” could be arrested for drinking on the street.
But your husband is the person who has taken the time to connect with Bill, and now he is doing what HE thinks is right.
Like you, I don’t happen to think this is a good idea, but you and he have had your debate, you’ve failed to persuade your husband to behave differently and now you should accept his choice — even if it is a flawed one — and let it go.
Bill is not creating a wedge in your marriage, but you might be.
DEAR AMY: My son is getting married soon and his cousin (my brother’s son) one month later. In planning the rehearsal dinner party, I’m sticking with tradition and inviting only the bridal party and out-of-town family members coming in for the wedding. My (local) sister-in-law just told me that she and my brother are inviting all family members to their rehearsal dinner. The guests include other siblings from out of town, their local children and spouses and even their grandchildren. I’m also on the guest list, but both my kids and their significant others have been excluded. My plans are to politely bow out of this function due to the fact that my kids are the only family members not included. I’m not looking to create tension, but this blatant disregard for my kids leaves me cold. I, of course, have no problem explaining how I feel to my brother and his wife and see no reason to invite them to the dinner I’m planning. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.
DEAR SNUBBED: Every wedding is different, as you know, and the hosts get to make whatever choices they want. You are excluding your son’s aunt and uncle from your rehearsal dinner (because they are local). They are excluding your kids, perhaps because you excluded their family.
Their choice seems lopsided, and as a guest, you can respond, which you obviously intend to do. Just don’t make a big deal about it. This is not about you — or your kids and partners.
DEAR AMY: I burst into tears reading your answer to “Worried,” the woman who felt a deep and loveless void in her life. Thank you, thank you for suggesting that she adopt a pet. You are so right that animals have an incredible way of unlocking compassion and love.
DEAR PET LOVER: I know it because I’ve lived it.