Dear Amy: Several years ago my husband and I visited his brother and wife on vacation. We stay with them and trust them for transportation.
One night we went out to dinner. His brother ordered some fried pickles as an appetizer.
My husband told him that he had never had one before and came over to grab one. His brother slapped his hand hard and told him that he would order his hand.
My husband, I and his brother’s wife were in shock.
As we were with them and at their mercy, we said nothing. I tried to pay for our dinner after that, but his brother refused to let us. Nothing else was said.
Since then, my husband and I agreed that if we visited them again, we would never stay with them.
The problem is that we can’t seem to close this.
His brother never apologized, nor has the issue been raised again between the two brothers, even though they have remained in contact.
Should we ask for an apology? Should we let him know how much his actions hurt us? We want to visit again, but we are not sure how to get over this experience.
Disappointed sister in law
Dear disappointed: Many people treat their dinners like an all-you-can-eat buffet, what’s mine is yours, but there are some people (and I’m one of them) who are unleashed when others take their food away, without being invited or without asking permission.
What her husband did (“Hmmm, I’ve never had that before; I’ll help myself”) was also something very much like a brother, revealing a behavior between the two brothers that probably dates back to childhood.
What his brother-in-law did in response was unforgivable.
Everyone’s reaction since then has been inexplicable.
Her husband and her brother have had a conversational relationship. He’s waiting for an apology that will never come.
Unfortunately, bro-code often suggests that the aggrieved party should simply “get over it,” without an acknowledgment or apology from the assailant. It’s possible that this twisted ethic actually contributed to the slapping incident, because when people don’t use their words (her husband didn’t ask, her brother didn’t apologize), they tend to lash out.
If your husband wants to get over this, he will have to be brave enough to bring it up: “Look, this may sound like ancient history to you, but it has been weighing on my mind. The time you slapped me in the restaurant during our visit really surprised me. It still bothers me. “
Your brother will probably lessen the worry. You might say you don’t remember it or outright deny that it ever happened. To be prepared.
Dear Amy: We have family all over the country. On each of their birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas, we send them checks or gifts and they never thank or even acknowledge having received anything.
We have a happy and loving family. It hurts me that nothing is ever acknowledged and yet, honestly, I don’t have the courage to stop giving it away.
My husband doesn’t care if they thank us or not.
I asked him to take over the delivery of gifts. He says he will. Great!
But doesn’t it all come down to the simple fact that they think we “owe” these things to them? ” We do not!
Wich is the way to go? Somewhere between sadness (me) and chance (him), there must be the correct answer.
Dear Gifted: You really don’t know if your relatives think you “owe” them, because they never communicate with you, in any way, about gifts.
If these family members never give you gifts (you don’t mention this), receiving gifts could actually make them feel uncomfortable. They may be passively trying to dissuade you from continuing.
You have a happy and loving family. Your family will continue to be loving and happy, whether or not you choose to give gifts. Once you understand this, you are free to worry about it.
I’m with her husband on this. If it feels good, do it, not out of obligation, but for the sheer pleasure of experiencing your own generosity.
Dear Amy: Hate to Ask was concerned that her mother had left more inheritance to a friend than to her.
Children often feel entitled to inheritance, while friends often earn it. Friends can help someone overcome everyday difficulties in life, including those caused by children.
Therefore, a good friend may be more deserving of a greater inheritance.
A friend indeed
Dear Friend: Great point!
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.