Dear Amy: Four of us — "Paul, George, Ringo and John" — have been friends since 1980, our freshman year in college.
Through the years we've aged, married, three of us have had kids, but we all stuck together as couples, primarily through our love for our alma mater's football team. That is, until this past Christmas.
That's when John's wife, "Yoko," sent a misdirected text to the group. She was very critical of me and George and our wives. We didn't "like" their posts on social media often enough. It seems trivial, but the venom was over the top.
The text really opened up a window to Yoko's deep-seated anger. The rest of us had noticed John and Yoko, the only couple without kids, drifting away for a while, but we had attributed that to the normal ebb and flow of life.
My wife and I reached out to them several times and were assured everything was OK. Obviously it wasn't and, when I reached out to John after the latest blow-up, he talked about slights going back 10, 15 years!
I felt terrible that I wasn't a better friend over those times, but, honestly, I had no idea.
Now, my wife has had enough. George and his wife have had enough. Ringo and his wife are trying to balance the warring camps, and I miss hanging out with John.
It seems like there's no way to put the band back together again. But how do I establish a relationship with John, minus Yoko? We are 59, but this feels like junior high school.
Amy says: You should contact John independently by e-mail. There is no reason to mention Yoko as the prime mover in this dust-up. Furthermore, do not get sucked into a written dialogue about her because she is likely to be told about whatever you write.
Tell him, "You are obviously upset about several things concerning our friendship going back a long way. I'd like to try to get back on track. Are you willing to talk things through?"
As close as you all are, none of us can truly know what private challenges another person faces. You can honor your long friendship by vowing to stay open, offering to listen, and trying to understand your friend's point of view.
John should do the same, but you cannot guarantee that he will. He may choose to go solo.
Struggle with parents
Dear Amy: I'm 21 and no longer live at home.
I have a 3-month-old girl and a loving soon-to-be husband, but I'm struggling with my parents. They've always put me down. My mother is constantly calling me harsh names.
We were on the phone a few minutes ago and before she hung up I heard her call me a "dumb (expletive)."
My father isn't any better. I moved out because he constantly interrupted my baby's sleep. He wouldn't listen to me, and now he tries to guilt me about moving out.
I'm getting married soon and I don't know if I want them there. What do I do?
Amy says: You're a mom now, and you want to raise your baby in a peaceful and respectful environment.
The first couple of years in your daughter's life will be filled with lessons and discoveries for both of you. Given that your folks are not always positive influences, you will have to be careful and protective of your baby and yourself.
Understand, however, that grandchildren sometimes bring out very different qualities in people, and those parents who are harsh with you might be loving and kind toward your child.
You will need to watch their behavior and continue to make choices regarding contact. If they are abusive, stay away from them.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.