Dear Amy: About a year ago, my maternal grandparents sold their home and moved across the country to spend their retirement in a nicer town. Now, they are pressuring my husband and me to fly out and stay with them for a week. They tell me, "Everyone else has come," or "We feel like you don't really love us."
The problem is time and money. My husband and I live on a very tight budget. While visiting them used to be a drive up the street, it would now require plane tickets, time off work, gas money to get to an airport and hiring someone to care for our dog while we're away. I told my grandparents this, and they offered to pay for our plane tickets. That is generous of them, but it's only a small part of the problem. My husband only gets paid when he works. If he takes off a week, we would not make enough to pay rent. I have told my grandparents this also, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.
Their constant pressure is stressing me out, on top of an already stressful job. I can't make time and money appear where there is none. My grandparents have the right to move away, but they didn't seem to think of the implications of being farther away from loved ones.
They have no family where they live now, and don't know anyone, which to me is why they seem desperate for constant visitors. My mother has only been able to travel and see her parents once (with the help of a friend paying part of the way), and most likely won't be able to again. How can I tell them that the rest of us just don't have the means to pick up and fly away?
Amy says: Can you make this trip solo (if your grandparents pay your way)? If not, then you simply cannot do it. That's nonnegotiable. It is not fair for your grandparents to try to emotionally manipulate you into visiting. All you need to do is to say, "I'm sorry, but I can't come. It doesn't mean that I don't love you, but it does mean that I can't visit you. I'm going to have to love you from a distance."
They seem able to afford to make the trip, and so you should encourage them to come back to their hometown. A visit might make them feel loved, and shore them up as they continue to adjust to their new lives.
Dear Amy: There is a man in my yoga class who wears very strong cologne.
This morning, while walking across the parking lot to class, the scent was overwhelming.
I waved my hand and asked that perhaps he could ease up a bit.
His wife was surprised, because she doesn't notice it — probably from smelling it all the time — and my husband was shocked that I brought it up.
I would usually not be so forthcoming, but week after week we are sharing an enclosed space, and I think I have the right to breathe clean air in class.
What is a person to do in this situation? Was I wrong to say anything?
Amy says: You weren't wrong to say anything about this overpowering scent, but the way you chose to speak up — waving your hand, and in a parking lot in front of both spouses — seems unnecessarily rude.
In my (limited) experience taking yoga classes, the instructor gently controls the atmosphere in the room. A word to the instructor might have been more appropriate, because she or he could have spoken to the man privately, while also reminding the entire class (publicly) that strong scents affect all participants.
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