DEAR AMY: I was with a man I loved very much for almost four years. He is now in recovery, but before he turned his life around, he had multiple issues with my family. While on a drinking binge, he had a verbal argument with my father, which he has tried to apologize for many times. This was three years ago, and my family refuses to even speak his name. A few months ago, I broke things off with my boyfriend because I thought my family would never accept him. I am still very upset by this, because I can’t see myself with anyone else. I know he would spend the rest of his life with me if that’s what I wanted. My family has never seen the good side of him. He treats me very well since getting sober. My family doesn’t believe in alcoholism being a disease, and that he has been in treatment for it. Should I get back together with him and risk my parents never accepting it?
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Please understand how upsetting it is for parents to see a child in a relationship with someone they fear is drunk and abusive.
Your parents don’t believe in the redemptive power of sobriety. They may think that they are protecting you, but they are really controlling you, and you are letting them.
Alcoholism affects everyone it touches. Your guy’s own family, friends and co-workers have likely been affected by his drinking. Because of this, many alcoholics working a 12-step program will make amends and ask for forgiveness from every single person in their lives.
And this is when the people sharing their lives are called upon to step up and also work the program by forgiving.
If your guy is rock-solid sober, loves and treasures you, and has asked for forgiveness, then I’d say that your family members are in worse shape than he is.
The way to work this out is for you to be brave enough to love the person you want to love. You will walk through this world together one day at a time. You should ask your parents to accept this reality, but understand that they may have a hard time getting there.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been married for more than 20 years. It seems that she is not keeping up with the basic table manners that she used to have. It is starting to get embarrassing. She chews with her mouth open, has her elbows on the table and waves her fork around while making a point. She will cut up all her food at once and mash it all together on the plate. If I point out (later, privately) that she should keep her hand in her lap, for example, she just waves me off as if she can’t be bothered with such things. This summer we have weddings and family functions to go to. How can we get her to brush up on her manners?
Napkin In Lap
DEAR NAPKIN: I’ve always thought that one of the advantages of being married is that you have a spouse who will tell you when you’re trailing a piece of toilet paper from your shoe on the way out of the ladies room, or have a piece of kale stuck between your teeth.
What I’m saying is that our spouses should tell the truth, as kindly as possible, and love each other anyway.
If I were you, I’d bypass the hand-in-lap rule and focus on the open-mouth chewing.
You should say to her, “Honey, we’ve all relaxed a lot since our own wedding day, but really — the food mashing, the chewing with your mouth open — can’t you brush up on your table manners before we go to these other weddings?”
Offer her a deal: She gets to correct you on something you do which drives her crazy, and you can both try to make some changes.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from “Atheistic, but not Amoral,” for both theists and atheists, the matter of belief is not a choice. People have choices over what religious or humanistic communities they join or don’t join, but cannot choose what they believe. The Hindu belief in reincarnation is appealing in many ways, but the appeal cannot transform a lack of belief into belief. The mother who wrote you did not make a “choice not to believe.” She simply does not have a theistic belief.
DEAR JERRE: Thank you for the thoughtful response.