DEAR AMY: My mother died 10 years ago. My father, “Lucifer,” started dating “Rebecca” within a week of my mom’s funeral. After two years, my father informed me that he was going to disinherit my brother and me in favor of “Rebecca” and her three spawn. I begged my father not to do this, and told him he’d never see me or my kids again if he married her and disinherited us. He said he didn’t care, and went ahead. Fast-forward to the present. Rebecca has died, and Lucifer is trying to “mend fences.” Meanwhile, he admitted to me that he has spent my mother’s entire trust on Rebecca and her three spawn, so I am out the money I was supposed to get from my deceased mother after my father died. I want nothing to do with Lucifer. He has betrayed my trust by turning his back on his “real” family in favor of a bunch of strangers. He has dishonored my mother’s dying wish that he preserve the principal of her trust for me and my family. I am so consumed by anger at the whole situation, I am finding it hard to get up in the morning and enjoy my day. I have a great life with a great husband and great kids, and we are not financially insecure by any means. How do I move past this?
Fed Up in Florida
DEAR FED UP: Your own behavior has contributed to your rage.
For instance, you declared to your father that you would completely cut him off if he married “Rebecca,” and yet one of the things that makes you so angry is that your father aligned with “strangers.” Well, if you hadn’t cut off your relationship, these people would not be strangers.
You can hold onto your rage so that it continues to interfere with your ability to enjoy your own life, or you can explore ways to release it.
One reason to engage in fence-mending is to restore the relationship to the degree where you can (at least) express your own anger, with the hopes of receiving an apology — or at least an explanation. A therapist could help you to cope with your feelings, and might also offer a pathway to reconciliation.
Revenge is easier than reconciliation, but revenge might not be best for you.
DEAR AMY: I am married to a kind, wonderful, intelligent man from another country. We go to his home country to visit family at least once a year. They make me feel very welcome, but soon end up reverting to their native language, which I do not understand at all, for most conversations. It makes me feel left out and ignored. I have voiced my feelings (many times) to my husband. While I understand that this can be habitual because it is, of course, their first language, it hurts my feelings to be sitting in a room full of people — ALL of whom speak English perfectly — and be purposely left out, even when sitting right next to my husband. I have asked repeatedly that he speak English while I am present, but it doesn’t end up that way. I find it to be extremely rude and hurtful. This is the only conflict we have. As a result, I am now dreading another visit, and am actually thinking of having him travel alone this time. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this?
DEAR LEFT OUT: It is understandable for people to speak their native language when they are in their home country and talking with other native speakers. You do this every single day. How did your husband cope with this alienation? He learned English!
The obvious solution is for you to make a concerted effort to learn your husband’s language. I assume your in-laws would be honored, and your comprehension would shoot up, even if your ability to speak lagged.
Until then, you should ask and then remind (in a good-natured way and in their language), “Oh please, can you speak English? I don’t want to miss anything!”
DEAR AMY: Like “Brokenhearted Niece,” I had a volatile family member who had a tendency to drink and embarrass herself and others. When I got married, I had a friend with experience who was willing to basically monitor this person and handle her if things got tough during the wedding and reception. We had no problems, but this relieved me of worrying about it.
DEAR WED: A great solution.