DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have friends, a married couple, with whom we have vacationed on several occasions. We live in different states, so we don’t see them that often.
This past Thanksgiving, we rented a house with them for a week. It was the week from hell. They fought constantly, trading insults; at one point, the wife was so upset that she left the restaurant right after we had all ordered food. It was a long, tense dinner at an expensive restaurant.
Her husband can be very insensitive to other people. It’s usually all about him.
My dilemma is that I don’t know how to tell my friend that it is no fun to go on vacations with them and that we will not be traveling with them this year. She and I have been friends for 30 years, long before our husbands were ever in the picture, and she is a treasured friend that I don’t want to lose.
GENTLE READER: Your dilemma is not that you do not know how to tell your friend it is no fun vacationing with her anymore. Your dilemma is that you do not know how to get away with it — in other words, how to do it without giving offense and possibly severing the relationship.
Let Miss Manners clear this up: You can’t. But you can always turn out to be unavailable around Thanksgiving, or find alternative outings that do not include spouses.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should I relate to my father’s third wife, now that my father has died?
My biological parents divorced when I was a small child. My father remarried, and my stepmother died in 1994. He then met Lauren when I was well into adulthood (married, and with kids of my own), so I never thought of her as a stepmother. Lauren was married previously, but never had children of her own (by choice).
My father and I were not very close, but I stayed in contact, particularly as he began to decline with dementia. They lived across the country from me, so I called every few weeks and visited two to three times a year.
Now that my father has died, Lauren seems to want more of a mother-daughter relationship with me — meaning, she wants my help and emotional support. But I don’t have that sort of feeling for her. She has quite a few friends in her town, but she “doesn’t want to burden them.”
When we talk on the phone, she very sweetly guilt-trips me (“Oh, how I wish you could be here to help me with this …”). How should I handle this?
GENTLE READER: Voluntarily assuming some of the responsibilities of deceased loved ones is a good deed, without being required — an extra credit in life, to borrow a metaphor from education.
Miss Manners puts tending to Lauren in this category — and understands that the history you mention — not having had this relationship with Lauren previously, nor having been close to your father — lessens your willingness to do it. The decision of how much to do, or how little, is yours — a fact that Lauren would do well to recognize, as any attempt to make you feel guilty should fail.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
COPYRIGHT 2022 JUDITH MARTIN
DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION
1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106; 816-581-7500