Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Q. I have been married to a wonderful man, “Steve,” for over 10 years, but lately he has become more and more impossible to deal with. The most recent incident has left me completely dumbfounded.

Recently, we had a verbal altercation with the next-door neighbor over several issues, and Steve vented on Facebook (although he never mentioned the person by name).

This caused the neighbor to end our relationship, and for a while, there were no more interactions with him.


However, the other day we were at a party and the neighbor came up and exchanged a few pleasantries with me, I’m assuming in an attempt to clear the air. He completely ignored Steve, however, and now Steve has vowed that he will never speak to the neighbor again, and expects me to do the same.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

We see this neighbor in a lot of social situations and now I feel caught in the middle.

I told Steve that I cannot abide by his rule of totally ignoring this person if we see him in a social setting. I feel that would be rude and also continue the spread of bad energy. I do not have a desire to be close friends with this neighbor (and never have) but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be polite and let bygones be bygones.

Steve says he is hurt and doesn’t understand why I am not standing by him. He says I am aligning with this person instead of him.

This has put a real hitch in our relationship, and I would love your take on it.

Stumped in Oregon


A. “Steve” has had his say. He has reacted and responded exactly the way he wanted to. You don’t dictate how your husband acts, even if you don’t like his behavior. And he’s just going to have to put up with you being a decent person, even if he doesn’t like it.

You are not aligning with this neighbor over your husband. You are simply living in the real world, where you get to behave in a way that conveys your own personality, temperament, and sense of decency.

If these flares of temper and obstreperousness are an unusual trend for your husband, he really should receive a thorough medical checkup.

Q. I am 12 years old. My friend who lives right across the street owns a huge dog. I used to love this dog (let’s call him “Rex”), but I’m scared of him now because he has growled, barked, snapped, and even chased me at least two times.

I was invited to a sleepover at this friend’s house. I would have loved it but I had to say no because Rex sleeps inside their house. I was sad because all my other friends were going.


I am even scared to go near their back door because they let him out many times a day. What should I do when they invite me to play inside or if they ask for a sleepover at their house? Help!


A. You deserve credit for being smart enough to avoid this dog, who has been aggressive toward you. Your instinct is excellent.

Now, however, you need to do some hard work in order to get beyond this fear — because the fear is having a really big impact on your life.

Talk to your parents about this, and ask for their help in talking to your neighbors. They should not dismiss your fear by saying, “Oh, don’t worry, Rex loves people!” They absolutely must make sure their dog does not get off his leash where he could chase and hurt you (or others).

Amy Dickinson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @asking
or “like” her on Facebook.