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Ask Amy: Five sisters exclude in-law on girls' weekends

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • March 19, 2014 - 1:54 PM

Dear Amy: My partner and I often commiserate on the questions in your column and find them “entertaining.” Now I have a question for you.

My partner is the eldest in a family of five daughters and one brother. Her brother’s wife, “Madame X,” is fairly close to the family (she has hosted parties; we’ve stayed at their home, etc.).

The other four sisters have hosted very successful sister weekends without including Madame X. (Madame X is one of three sisters herself, and all live locally.) There seems to be some resentment toward Madame X, bordering on jealousy.

The latest sisters’ weekend is planned for this summer, and Madame X has made it known via her husband that she feels slighted that she has not been invited.

We are all confused about this, and my partner is not sure what to do.

I was wondering if you could broker some type of suggestion that all sisters could agree upon.

My partner is the more laid-back type but even she does not want Madame X to join them, as she feels it is strictly for the blood sisters only.

Amy says: As the sister to two (and sister-in-law to 10 more), I can say there is no answer that five sisters will agree upon. Each sister is responsible for her own behavior.

The idea that these women hold unfounded negative views and act as a sort of sibling monolith is hurtful and makes things worse for “Madame X.” This is not behavior to be proud of. She has obviously picked up on the sisterly negativity and is responding by passively asking her husband to deliver her message.

If your partner posed this question, I would tell her to behave with personal integrity and at least own her attitude and choice. She should contact her sister-in-law personally and be brave enough to say, “This is awkward, but I understand from my brother that you are upset not to be included in our sister weekends. Is that true?”

She should listen with a neutral attitude. Then, if appropriate, she should say, “I realize this is upsetting. I know you feel excluded. But I hope you can understand that we see these weekends as opportunities for we birth sisters to spend time together and that it truly is nothing personal.”

Going to the dogs

Dear Amy: I have two friends who have designated their dogs to be “emotional support dogs.” This allows the dogs to go on airplanes, into restaurants, etc. — basically anywhere the women go.

I am having a difficult time being around these women, as I know it is a convenience for them rather than a legitimate “service dog,” and they both have attitudes about it. Suggestions?

Amy says: These women are going to need their dogs more and more for emotional support if they lose their human friendships over their desire/need to have their dogs with them at all times.

But here’s the thing: They’re doing it. The choice you face is to think long and hard about this reality and decide whether you can accept their canine companions — or leave the relationships. You telling them they have an “attitude” isn’t going to make any difference.

If you cannot adjust, then you owe it to these friends to tell them the reason you don’t want to spend time with them is because your relationship has really gone to the dogs.

Medication can help

Dear Amy: Regarding the woman writing about her guy who threw things — he may have undiagnosed ADD and/or may be “on spectrum.” Getting screened might help explain the negativity and the “not trying hard enough.” If that’s how his brain is wired, he’s probably frustrated also, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Meds can help some people, though not everyone.

My hubby was diagnosed at age 49.

Amy says: There could be any number of reasons for this man’s behavior. I hope he chooses to be screened.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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