Dear Annie: A few years ago, I met the most amazing man. “Jim” is the love of my life. I fell in love with his family, too.
The problem is, after a year of marriage, I received a text message from my mother-in-law (Jim’s stepmother) stating that his family has never wanted me around and they don’t like me. I get along with Jim’s siblings, all of whom live out of town, and they have assured me that they do not feel this way.
Jim works away from home for weeks at a time. When he is away, I am not invited to family dinners and outings the way I am when he is here. Then, I feel unwelcome when they do include both of us. I have told Jim that I will no longer attend his family functions. But is this fair to him? Is there anything I can do to rectify the situation? Should I ask Jim to speak to his father? I would hate to cut this good man out of my life. — Hurt in Pennsylvania
Dear Hurt: What a nasty bunch you’ve married into. Even if Jim’s stepmother is the only one who dislikes you, the others are following her directives. Your husband should make it clear to all of them that you are his family now, and they should treat you with respect and consideration, or they risk losing both of you. Meanwhile, have you invited his siblings and parents to your home? Hospitality works both ways. Do your best to ingratiate yourself and see whether it helps before you throw in the towel.
Dear Annie: My cousin’s bat mitzvah was held at a resort in the middle of nowhere. Getting there would have involved a long train ride, plus the hotel costs, and I would have had to share a room with my parents (I’m 35). I politely declined. My aunt and uncle are well off, and I only work part time. I prefer to save my money.
Recently, I received an invitation to their daughter’s wedding. This would mean a tremendous amount of money on my part, plus I’d have to take off from work. So I RSVP’d that I couldn’t come. Now my aunt thinks I’m being unreasonable. She says I’m alienating my family. I say my aunt and uncle aren’t being fair to their guests. Shouldn’t we be allowed to save our money and vacation days for our own leisure? These “destination weddings” can be a problem. When another cousin married, I attended, but didn’t give a gift because it cost me $150 just to get there. Isn’t that enough? — New York
Dear New York: Not really. We agree that destination weddings are often a burden on the guests, so if you cannot afford to attend, it’s OK to decline. But you should send a gift or a card with your sincere good wishes. And when you do come to these events, a gift is expected. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Offer to take candid photographs for the couple. Or get them a bottle of inexpensive sparkling wine. Write them a poem and frame it. Use your imagination.
Dear Annie: “No Name Anywhere” wanted to tactfully ask her boyfriend to remove the personal effects of his late wife. You suggested she offer to help and said, “If he has children, perhaps they would like to go through her belongings.” She should insist on it.
When my dear mother-in-law passed away, my father-in-law’s new wife promptly donated everything to a thrift store. Dad didn’t care. The children, however, were not pleased that so many treasured items were gone without their having had a chance to go through them. This put additional strain on forging a relationship with a new stepmother. — Been There
“Annie’s Mailbox” is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. To find out more about Classic Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.