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Ask Amy

Friend ponders marriage intervention

Q. “Curt” and I have been friends for about 15 years. I admire him as a great volunteer for a group we both belong to. He has a bit of a challenging personality (he can be self-centered, and too talkative), but he is a nice guy and a good friend.

I recently met his wife for the first time. My problem is that, once the wife figured out that I knew “Curt,” she wasted no time launching into a diatribe about him. She cited chapter and verse, with examples, of what a horrible guy he is and how much she hates him.

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In the moment, I tried not to register my shock (remember, I had just met her). Maybe she just needed to confide in another woman, and would have done the same with anyone.

My dilemma is how to proceed. I almost feel obligated to tell Curt what his wife said so that he can save his marriage if he wants to. (Yes, it was that bad.) But I also wonder whether hearing this from me would be more embarrassing than helpful.

Curt can be so oblivious to other people that he may not, in fact, be aware of this. My other option is to leave well enough alone, but that feels like betrayal. What if they do divorce and I could have done something to prevent it? What’s your advice?

Knows Too Much

A. “Curt’s” wife should not have launched into a detailed diatribe about his awfulness, certainly on your first meeting.

But — just as she should not have confided in you, you should not try to help Curt “save his marriage, if he wants to.”

Of course, you have absolutely no way of knowing, but it is possible that Curt is not actually the nice guy you think he is — to his wife, anyway. Many people operate comfortably in a duality — showing one side of their character and personality at home, and a polar-opposite side elsewhere in the world. Are you so insightful that you know how this person behaves in his other relationships?

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Either Curt is horrible or his wife is. Because your relationship with him seems confined to the volunteer activity you share, I suggest that you suspend your judgment about either of them.

Q. Our 18-year-old son is about to graduate from high school, and he is adamant that he does NOT want a graduation party.

He hates small talk, does not like to be the center of attention, and has some social anxiety, so my wife and I understand his decision. We have a large extended family, and some of them are telling us to “overrule” our son and have a graduation party anyway.

We would like to honor our son’s request, and at the same time, frankly, do not have the strength to put up with an angry teenager for a couple of weeks while we exhaust ourselves cleaning the house, shopping, and cooking for the party — which our son doesn’t want.

How can we “announce” that he is graduating without inviting everyone to the actual graduation (attendance is limited by the high school to immediate family only) and without having a graduation party? At the same time, we do not want an announcement to look like a call for gifts, as that is not our intent. We just want to let our extended family and friends know our son is graduating.

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Worn out Parents

A. If your son didn’t want to have a party, but you did, it would be another matter; but according to you, you also don’t want to host a party.

You should assume that your friends and extended family already know that your son is graduating from high school. After all, according to you, some of these family members have already been agitating for you to overrule your son’s preferences and have a party.

You should do whatever you and your son agree upon. After the fact, you can remain private, post your congratulations on social media, through a group e-mail, or by sending out printed announcements. You can’t control how people interpret it.

Q. I’m weighing in on the letter from “Disgusted,” regarding a grandmother who admonished her granddaughter: “Don’t get raped.” This sort of inappropriate outburst can signal the beginnings of dementia. Grandma should be checked out.

Reader with Radar

A. According to “Disgusted,” Grandma has a long and storied history of shooting from the lip.


Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.