Q. Every fall, my sister, cousins, and a cousin’s sister-in-law have a weekend shopping excursion in our home city.
We stay in a hotel, treat ourselves, shop for our children, and go out for lunches and dinners. It is a great time to reconnect.
I have a sister “Wendy,” who we do not invite. She is offended to the point of tears when she finds we have not invited her, but Wendy hasn’t been as close to this set of cousins as my sister and I have been through the years.
We are all married stay-at-home moms. Wendy is a divorced, working mom with one young child.
There are several reasons we do not include her. We know she doesn’t have very much money for such an outing. She also does not have many of the same interests as we do. Her life is quite different from ours. We’re not interested in what she has to talk about. She complains too much about her aches and pains, and claims to have some kind of neurological disease that some of us feel is more psychosomatic than real and which she uses to avoid getting up for church on Sundays.
She also complains about her ex-husband, who left her for another woman, but everyone knows it takes “two to tango” and she is not without fault.
We’re all very active churchgoers, while she only sporadically attends services. Plain and simple, she does not really fit in with us anymore.
She takes it very personally, and last year even came over to my home unannounced crying about it, which upset my children and caused my husband to threaten to call the police if she did not leave.
Now she barely speaks to me and has told our relatives that I am a horrible person (even though I’ve helped her).
How can we get her to understand that she should perhaps find another set of friends whose lives and interests align more closely with hers?
A. First, let’s establish that I agree with your sister: You are a horrible person.
Obviously, you can do whatever you want and associate with — or exclude — whomever you want, but you don’t get to do this and also blame the person you are excluding for not “fitting in.”
The only way your sister would ever fit in would be for you to make room for her. You are unwilling to do that, and that is your choice. But her being upset is completely justified, and you’ll just have to live with that.
Perhaps this is something you could ponder from your church pew, because despite your regular attendance, you don’t seem to have learned much.
Q. My boyfriend and I have been together for 2½ years. It was great the first year but now it seems like all we do is fight.
It’s gotten to the point where we break things.
I want to get past this but don’t know how. We talk and then it’s good for a few weeks and then back to the same.
Is it crazy to stay with him and try to get past this or should I leave him?
A. If your fighting is escalating and your peaceful times diminishing, you should separate in order to get a bead on what you really want, and see if you — and he — are both motivated and capable of committing to the hard work of changing (one person changing cannot fix this). A professional counselor can help.
Sometimes the only way to truly “get past” a relationship that has grown toxic is to look at it through the rear-view mirror as you ease on down the road.Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.