DEAR ABBY: Six years ago, not long after I announced to my family that I was going to be married, my parents decided to divorce because Dad had been cheating on Mom. Because I allowed him to walk me down the aisle, she didn’t attend my wedding. I was extremely hurt by it, but decided to forgive and forget. Unfortunately, my mother could not do that.
For the last six years, she has ignored my phone calls and text messages. I have sent cards and gifts for birthdays, Christmas and Mother’s Day and received no acknowledgment (although she does generally send me a generic birthday or Christmas card).
We were very close before all this started, and I have tried reaching out to her in every way I know how. What makes this even more awkward is that she lives a stone’s throw away, and my teenage daughter is close with her. If I’m outside when she drops my daughter off, she hides her face or pulls up in front of a big tree in my yard so she can’t see me.
Cutting family out of her life is a pattern for her. My mother hasn’t spoken to her own father in almost 50 years, and out of her six siblings, she speaks to only one. She cut her own mother out of her life for years until Grandma was on her deathbed.
With Mom’s birthday coming up, I’m at the point where I think I’m done sending cards and gifts to someone who can’t acknowledge me and blatantly hides from me. What do you think? – Castoff in Illinois
DEAR CASTOFF: Sending the greeting cards is a minimal way to maintain contact, and you could continue doing it. But if you’re really done, you’re done.
DEAR ABBY: After 34 years of marriage, I realized that I must “earn the right” to have sex. This morning I agreed to go to a particular movie my wife wants me to see with her in exchange for sex.
I now recognize that this trading started years ago, and I just let it slide. But now I realize that what I call “trading for favors” has entered other aspects of our relationship: “Do this for me, and I’ll do that for you.”
I have a pretty thick skin, but more and more, I’m concluding this is a game that I’d rather not play. Can you give me any advice as to where we can go for help? I have no problem involving her in any solution. – Must Earn the Right
DEAR MUST EARN THE RIGHT: I agree that your wife must be a part of the solution to your problem. Because the old “pay for play” no longer suits you, the place to seek help would be the office of a licensed marriage counselor. I wish you luck, because decades-old dynamics can be hard to change.
DEAR ABBY: My best friend “Jennifer’s” mom recently passed away. I was with her through the entire process.
While cleaning out her mother’s home, Jennifer asked to store some things in my garage. Of course I agreed. She’s unable to store her mother’s things because she lives in a small apartment.
It has been three weeks now. My question to you is, what is proper etiquette when asking a friend how long she wants me to store her mother’s belongings? – Storage Etiquette in the East
DEAR ETIQUETTE: If keeping Jennifer’s belongings in your garage is creating a problem for you, this is a question you should have asked before agreeing she could move them in. Since you didn’t, and I assume you will want your garage back at some point, set a deadline and tell your friend in plenty of time so she can make other arrangements for storing them. If you don’t, you could find yourself holding them indefinitely.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.