DEAR AMY: I hope you can help solve a disagreement between my sister and me about phone call etiquette. When my sister calls and I miss the call, she expects a quick call-back, because I saw her missed call pop up on my phone. I do not deliberately ignore her calls, but I don’t have my phone glued to my hip. When I see a missed call but no voicemail or text, I assume that it is nothing important, or that she was just calling to shoot the breeze, and do not immediately call back. She feels that I should always call her back when I see a missed call, because this is a simple courtesy. I tell her to either leave me a voicemail or send a text to call her back, so that I know she has something specific to discuss. Who is correct? Should I return every missed call from her, or should she send a quick message asking me to call her? We bicker constantly about this. I am hoping to get a resolution from you so we can lay this issue to rest.

Phone Tagged

DEAR TAGGED: My reaction to this is that, of the two of you, your sister is the one who wants something specific: a call back. You have told her how to get what she wants from you (by leaving a voicemail or sending a text). She is refusing to do this, and so she is not going to get what she wants.

I don’t think this is an etiquette question, so much as an issue regarding human nature, as well as the strength of specific relationships. I happen to follow the same basic practice as you do — if I see a missed call from someone I communicate with regularly, with no voicemail message or text, I return the call when (and if) I want to.

You might compromise by shooting her a text saying, “What’s up? Can I call you later?” when you see a “missed call” notification, but given your sister’s overall demanding attitude regarding contact, I give you props for returning her calls at all.

DEAR AMY: I have been with my husband for 40 years. A few years back, I found out that he had had an affair. It lasted for about two years. I decided to stay and work things through with him. We have four children together. I have kept the affair to myself, never telling anyone. Needless to say, it has been very difficult. I was and am very hurt by it all. To add to our troubles, he has issues with porn and hides his drinking from me. Three times in the past couple of years we have woken up to find his wedding band off his finger and lying in the bed. Each time it happened, it broke my heart, but I say nothing. It happened again last week. He claims it just happens in his sleep, and he’s not responsible. On the positive side, he is very kind. We do a lot of fun things together. He tells me he loves me many times a day. He wants to put the past behind us. What are your thoughts on his taking his ring off in his sleep? It really bothers me.


DEAR SAD: I also sometimes take my rings off in my sleep. I do it because my fingers seem to swell at night and they become very uncomfortable. I don’t think you should assume that this is a deliberate statement about your relationship.

Of course your husband wants to put his affair behind him! But it won’t be over until you deal with it, both on your own and as a couple.

You say repeatedly that you keep everything to yourself. Please don’t. Talking will help. It is necessary to express your true feelings — about the affair, the porn, the drinking — and it would help you to heal. You could also use a trusted confidant, a friend who will listen without judgment, and comfort you.

Writing about this will also help. Pour out your feelings in a notebook. Please don’t lock them away.

DEAR AMY: I loved your thoughtful response to “K” regarding how to heal from heartbreak — except when you suggested that she “rethink” her use of antidepressants. I used an antidepressant for a short period when I was grieving, and it really helped me get through the worst of it.


DEAR RECOVERED: Many people have responded similarly. Thank you.


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