DEAR AMY: My son -- who lives in the same town as I -- is married to a very bright, strong, controlling young woman with a child from a previous marriage. I treat the child as I do all my grandchildren, as if she has always been ours (as does my son). Holidays are always spent with her family (I am divorced) and although they invite me to go with them, I am not really "included" if I go, so I now choose not to attend. I spend most holidays with friends. There are no alternating holidays between her mom and me. My son allows this, so that tells me it's just fine with him. There are pictures of her family, their friends and his father (and his wife) all over their house, but not one single family picture of all of us. They roll out the red carpet for "Dad" when he comes to town, but they never come to see me -- just down the road. They rarely invite me to their place unless they want me to do something for them. I stay out of their business, offer help when needed, send cooked meals because they all work (as do I), make few demands and ask for little. I am not going to sever the relationship, but all signs tell me it is a poor emotional investment for me and I should work on emotionally withdrawing from it. What do you think?
Sad to Say
DEAR SAD: You don't need to work on emotionally withdrawing -- because it seems you've already pre-emptively done this.
You present a narrative of being ignored or overlooked by your son and his wife, but you don't mention any efforts you might be making to include them. Emotional investment and involvement runs both ways.
Your daughter-in-law's family has invited you to spend holidays with them, but you say you didn't feel included. Do you invite them (and your son's family) to your home? Do you spend any one-on-one time with your grandchild? This situation is challenging. You might need to work a little harder and be more assertive to get a little more of what you want -- for instance, give your son and wife a framed photo of all of you. You should also determine not to be quite so sensitive.
DEAR AMY: I am a widower of four years and have a lady friend who has been a widow for over a decade. We are both in our mid-70s and have been friends for some time. Along with my family, she was hugely instrumental in helping me out of a dark place after my wife's death. She was my late wife's friend. About nine months after my loss I found myself falling deeply in love with this woman. We spent a lot of time together, fixing meals for each other and going out with other couples. We discussed remarriage and I proposed to her more than once. My proposals brought tears to her eyes but the "yes" never happened. A little over a year ago she decided that we should just be friends. She is quite independent, cherishes her alone time, church work and female friends, and says she likes her life the way it is. I can't get her out of my mind and I am still deeply in love with her. Any suggestions regarding regaining her love for a possible future together?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: I don't have a magic love potion for you, unfortunately. My advice is to try to enjoy this friendship as it is. For many people, love and friendship without marriage would be ideal.
If remarrying is very important to you, you should try to meet other people. Some distance from you may sweeten the deal for her, but you shouldn't count on it.
DEAR AMY: The letter from "Just a Girl Doing My Job" made me crazy. She wanted lessons on how to be "politely rude" to her co-workers when she ran into them outside of work. She should go to work for the DMV -- or somewhere where her rudeness would be an asset.
DEAR JANE: Ouch.