DEAR AMY: One of our children recently married into a large, close-knit, gregarious family. These folks spend all holidays together, they vacation together and, although most of them live halfway across the country from our child and spouse, they often hop on a plane and come for short visits between family get-togethers. They have welcomed our child with open arms and our child has enthusiastically joined in all their gatherings and activities. My much smaller extended family, however, is far more independent and not in frequent contact with one another. Even when my husband and I have tried to put together gatherings and family reunions, our other children (and the few cousins, aunts and uncles we have) show no interest in seeing one another. We are happy that our child is now part of a warm, outgoing, loving family who place a priority on staying connected. But I am increasingly finding myself upset and disappointed with my family's lack of interest in connecting. I am also jealous of our child's in-law family and their place in our child's life. I just don't know where to go with these feelings. I should be glad that our child has such a great relationship with these folks, but instead I just feel hurt.
DEAR SAD: Don't misplace these feelings and blame your child's in-laws. All families are different and it is unfortunate that despite your advocacy your family isn't interested in coming together.
I hope you will be welcomed into your child's in-law family, at least in a satisfyingly tangential way. You should reach out to them when they are visiting your child and spouse. Invite them to your home and get to know them. I hope a nice friendship blossoms between you so that you benefit from their more gregarious and inclusive way of relating.
DEAR AMY: My daughter and her boyfriend got married this past weekend. The ceremony was beautiful and they worked very hard to make sure everything was just right. They also paid for the whole thing; though it was a low-key affair, there was still considerable expense. What shocked me was the number of guests who RSVP'd that they would be attending, but then didn't show up. This meant that a lot of money was spent on food, beverages and favors that went to waste. I know sometimes people think, "Well, I'm just one person so it won't make that much difference," but if you multiply that by 10 or 20 people, it adds up! I find it incredibly rude and feel that they owe her and her husband an apology. Outside of calling them out on Facebook or jokingly saying they'll get a bill for their portion of the food, I know there's nothing to be done. I just wonder if this is the "new way" and manners just don't matter anymore. Your thoughts?
DEAR FURIOUS: Calling people out on Facebook and jokingly saying you'll bill them for the food they didn't consume at the wedding is a terrible idea. Please don't suggest it.
I don't know if this rudeness is a recent development, but I do know that once you've paid for an event and had people be so cavalier, it definitely changes your point of view about what an RSVP is all about. Younger people who have never been left holding the bag may not realize the impact of their choice to blow off a major planned event.
Most important, however, is the impact of this rudeness on friendships. Weddings, funerals and other milestone events are when you figure out who your real friends are.
DEAR AMY: "Dejected" wrote to you about her frustration that her husband never compliments her, despite her requests for him to do so. A "forced" or "fake" compliment is no compliment at all. She should realize that.
Free to Compliment
DEAR FREE: I heard from a large number of people (women, mainly) who reported teaching their partner to tell them what they want to hear. It seems to work for some.