Four years ago, my mom began a relationship with a man who’s unable to be friendly, respectful, or build rapport.
He’s aloof, arrogant, and any time my wife and I spent with him has been excruciating.
My mom says this is his "personality type," that he’s a nice guy underneath.
They’ve lived together and broken up twice, but remain close friends.
However, when I bring my wife and kids to family events, from our home six hours away, she invites him too, though she sees him all the time.
The experience inevitably becomes painful and hurtful because we’ve come mainly to see her.
Then he casts a long awkward presence over the whole proceedings.
She says that he has no friends/family, while our family is a big support to him and "has always been inclusive."
I'm all for including people from time to time, but I think a) that making him feel comfortable shouldn’t be my family's responsibility, and b) she should stop inviting him all the time and let us know in the future if she plans to do so.
You’re hurt and she’s not getting it.
She’s lonely enough to put up with his “personality type,” but you’re not getting it.
He may be insecure or have other reasons for his off-putting manner that you don’t know, while your mom seems to understand and accept him.
You and your mom need to talk openly. Tell her you love her and miss being together.
Say that you need some family time on your own with her on visits, but that you’re willing to be with her friend after a few days.
Ask her to help you get along better with him, and plan ahead for this. Example: If there’s a sport you and he both like perhaps you could watch a game together, or the family can have a movie night that suits all.
If nothing works, ask Mom to visit you occasionally – send her a plane or train ticket, and spend a few days where she sees your home life and spends solid time with you and yours.
But recognize that you and your wife may also end up having her meet some of your friends – it’s a way we share a part of our personal lives with family we love… which your mom is trying to do when you visit her.
I’ve just buried my father and only two of my husband's family – a 30-member group - offered any help as pall bearers, attended the visitation, and/or the funeral. No others even acknowledged my loss.
For over 20 years I’ve invited his family over for dinner and special occasions. They all bring their spouses, adult children, boyfriends, girlfriends and others to our home, with me giving gifts to their children at Christmas and birthdays.
I’ve not even been to some of their homes.
Is this the new normal in manners concerning a family member’s funeral?
No, there are no “manners” here but for two relatives… only awkwardness and neglect from all the rest.
Many people are uncomfortable about death, but family members are wrong and disrespectful to not call, express condolences, and ask how to help out.
Loss is a fact of all our lives.
That’s why thoughtful family members and friends should alert others to show support.
Contact some to drop in cooked food so mourners can focus on necessary arrangements, tell relatives and friends about the visitation and funeral times and locale, and encourage the sending of cards and emails.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose “divorcing” boyfriend of three years spent Christmas with his daughter whom she’s never met, and his ex-wife (January 9):
Reader – “Three years is a long time for a divorce process, even a complicated one.
“The time lag is especially long if he hasn't even permitted her to meet his child in a casual way (without revealing the relationship status to the child).
“And also because he still spends holidays with his wife.
“I wonder if this woman has seen proof that there's an actual divorce in the works.
“If she hasn't, I'm afraid he might be conning her.
“It's a difficult conclusion to come to on her own, but if she's a big secret to everyone after three years, it's very possible that there’s no divorce and she's a mistress.
“Time for her to ask some really tough questions and ask to see some documentation.”
Tip of the day:
When there’s hurt feelings between close family, speak openly and find new approaches together.