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Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Q. My sister and her husband recently had a baby. They are in their late 40s, and have been together for 20 years. They never told me that they wanted a family, and it turns out they spent years trying to conceive.

I continue to feel hurt that my sister kept this important fact in her life secret from me, even though my nephew is now 3. She disclosed this to some close friends and co-workers. She feels bad that my feelings are hurt, but said that they kept the secret from all the family members and didn’t want to have to explain for years when fertility treatments didn’t work.

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While I understand this explanation, and I think of this as me gaining a nephew, I am having trouble facing the reality that I never had the relationship with my sister I thought I had, and know now that I never will.

I find myself keeping an emotional distance from her, and I have a hard time emotionally connecting with my nephew.

Please help me reorient my thinking.

A. You don’t say if you have children, but if you did you’d be more sensitive to your sister’s situation. Sometimes it is preferable to share news about your reproductive system with people who you don’t have to face across the Thanksgiving table.

It’s also tough to disclose private information to one family member if you don’t want other family members to know.

Keeping intimate challenges out of the family realm can also be an attempt to try to protect loved ones from the drama and disappointment of infertility or other personal challenges.

Here’s your reorientation: If you refuse to bond with a 3-year-old because you don’t approve of how his mom handled her infertility, then you will never have the relationship with your sister you’d like. Rejecting a child is a surefire way to alienate the child’s mother.

Q. I’ve been invited to my daughter’s fourth wedding (it is also her fiance’s fourth). They are 54.

How many weddings am I supposed to attend? She’ll be angry if I don’t come.

I am 76 and my only income is Social Security, so this is also expensive for me with airline tickets, motel, etc.

I also feel a big wedding is ridiculous, and I really don’t want to go to Florida in August.

I’m sure this won’t be the last wedding. Please tell me what I should do.

A. It might help if you stopped seeing her weddings as the start of another failed marriage, and more as family reunions.

If there is any compelling reason to go to this wedding (i.e. see friends and family, meet some new people — or even have fun), you should talk yourself into it.

However, I think it’s kind, respectful, and supportive for a middle-aged couple throwing a big wedding to pay for the mother of the bride’s flight and hotel.

Q. Regarding the letter from “Disgusted” about her “nonreligious” Jewish husband who went online to buy an ordination so he could officiate at his son’s wedding, the commonwealth of Virginia expressly precludes anyone from doing this.

Several couples have called upon me at the last minute to perform their ceremony when they learn that online ordinations are not valid in our state.

There is only one title this guy deserves: “schlemiel!”

marriage commissioner,

commonwealth of Virginia

A. Couples wanting to be married by an online schlemiel should definitely check their state laws before saying “I do.”

You can contact Amy Dickinson via e-mail at askamy@tribune
.com
. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.

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