My brother and I inherited a large but rundown family cottage from our widowed father.
We rebuilt it into a duplex cottage so our two families (each with two children) could have separate kitchens, bathrooms, even decks, but with the yards attached.
We share the beach area and the dock. I bought a boat so I rebuilt the dock for it. My brother was grateful because he owned a jet ski.
His kids, older than mine (I married later), brought their significant others into their family bubble during the pandemic.
Friends who rent/own cottages nearby, join them for late-night parties.
However, my wife’s mother has health issues, so this summer we’ve had to be more careful because of Covid.
I’ve taken my brother’s adult children on the boat several times, but my wife gets anxious about their touching everything and possibly passing on the virus to us/our kids/and ultimately her mother.
It’s caused a rift, as my sister-in-law thinks my wife is just being “bitchy,” wanting the boat for only our family.
My wife counters that her concern about her mom is too serious to dismiss.
Is this worth ruining our summer and our family relationship?
Family vs. Boat
Anxiety about older family members with compromised-health issues during Covid-19, is natural and still necessary.
Calling someone “bitchy” over that fear is unfair, and harmful to the sisters-in-laws’ relationship.
Sure, anyone who’s ever been lucky to feel the laid-back freedom of being in a boat on a lake on a hot summer day, understands its draw. But these are not yet fully normal times.
Your wife is raising younger kids who are still requiring supervision, still testing safety rules. They need reminders to stay committed to not being in close quarters with new people or touching where they’ve been.
For their own as well as Grandma’s sake.
Perhaps the solution here should come from their older cousins next door, who are bringing these added people to the dock and the boat.
They can be told that the requirement for a boat-ride invitation, is to be prepared when back at the dock to use sanitizer to wipe down all the surfaces they touched and where they sat.
Also, talk to your brother. You’ve done so well at staying close, especially through the inevitable difficulties of agreeing on a reno project and living side-by-side.
Now, you should try hard to get your wives to rise above this conflict.
Tell them to recognize how truly fortunate they are for this boat squabble to be their main relationship problem!
My son, 22, recently started dating a young woman, 20. Their relationship is “sweet,” both being ever-so polite and enjoying being with each other’s family.
No surprise since his girlfriend and my daughter have been best friends since early high school!
My husband and I have also been close friends with her parents for years. We’ve even enjoyed family vacations together.
But I have realistic concerns:
They’re young, this is their first openly “in love” relationship. What’s likely to happen to all the close connections if/when the couple break up?
Every relationship carries what-if possibilities.
Your worries are apparently about how family members/friends on both sides will react if they break up.
Likely, unless there’s an ugly incident, everyone will eventually carry on as decently as possible.
More likely, the couple might find that having so many close observers becomes intrusive, and they’ll move on to relationships that involve more independence along with maturity.
FEEDBACK Regarding worries about how to discuss a woman friend’s lifestyle of having sex with any guy, even ones she doesn’t like, seeming “like a magnet for those who just use her” (July 15):
Reader – “When I was 40, I met lots of women like that. I was divorced, six feet tall, 200 lbs. and played hockey. I met them everywhere - hockey games, restaurants, bars clubs, etc.
“I only dated one and she couldn’t be trusted. I was single for about five years and a lot of times I dismissed myself and went home alone, as I didn’t need the theatrics and all those problems.
“I eventually met someone who was even with me in many respects and had social skills and could be trusted. I married her and have celebrated 25 great years of enjoyment.
“Those hot, sexy relationships that start fast, often end even faster.”
Tip of the day:
Anxiety about a health-compromised relative’s exposure to Covid-19 is necessary, not something to argue about.