Dear Annie: My husband has a cousin, “Tim,” who is married to “Sally.” My in-laws frequently gossip about them, and whatever is wrong, they always say it’s Sally’s fault.
Apparently, something happened between Sally and my in-laws before her marriage to Tim, and for whatever reason, they still hold a grudge. Some of my husband’s family members will purposely exclude themselves from family gatherings when Sally and her family are there.
When I came into the family and heard the gossip, I thought it was pretty ridiculous. It’s such a childish way for a family to behave, and I don’t know whether to say something or bite my tongue. When I met Sally, after hearing so many nasty stories, I couldn’t understand why the in-laws were so bitter. I have never had any issues with her. She is a nice person and seems to be well-rounded.
I hear the anti-Sally gossip even from my husband, and frankly, I don’t want to be around it. It doesn’t seem fair to Sally. Isn’t a family supposed to support one another? — Frustrated Family Member from B.C.
Dear B.C.: We don’t know why Sally’s in-laws despise her so thoroughly. And it’s possible for someone to make a great impression while being manipulative, so the fact that you think Sally is nice may not mean much. Still, it’s mean-spirited to blame Sally for everything and gossip behind her back. Tell your husband you want to have a friendly relationship with Sally. If he or anyone in his family should bad-mouth her in your presence, excuse yourself and leave. They may not stop, but at least you won’t have to listen to it.
Dear Annie: A group of my friends have started getting together on Saturday nights at a restaurant that offers entertainment. We always have separate checks. Occasionally, we invite friends and co-workers to join us and we all pay for our own meals.
Recently, I learned some family members were going to be in town and thought it would be fun to include them. I told the regular members, as well as some additional friends, that I’d love it if they joined us so they could meet my family. One of the non-regulars responded by indicating she thought I would be paying for everyone’s dinner.
Does the person inviting people to a dinner party pay? Since this has never been the custom of my group, it may become awkward. How should I handle this? — Not Sure in Boston
Dear Boston: If members of your group always pay their own way regardless of who shows up, that is the custom, and those you invite should be told in advance that they are responsible for their own meals. You do not have to treat.
Dear Annie: Several moms in our little town were chatting about how our husbands never get anything done on their own, so we formed a building co-op for them so they could have buddies while they work. One Saturday a month, the guys get together at one of our houses to work on a big project, and the wives bring the food. Through this experience, we have developed incredible friendships, made memories, relied on each other when we needed support and have had wonderful adventures. Our kids have grown up with this and cherish these experiences. Meanwhile, huge household projects get done because the guys have learned to work well together. This past month we celebrated our 10th co-op anniversary. We’ve been calling it the “Balding” Co-op for a while, and we still have a ton of fun together, with many big projects on the horizon. — Living Real in Vermont
Dear Vermont: This is a wonderful idea that makes those home projects more fun and much more likely to get done. We hope it catches on.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger on 11.19.07