Aaron's Rotten Advice: July 30, 2010 Edition
DEAR AMY: There is a family I am not particularly fond of. Even though I don't like them, my husband insists on putting their son on his baseball teams.
These people have disrespected me many times. My husband knows how I feel about them.
My son and their son are friends, but I've had enough. After this season, I'd like to sever all ties with these people. This might mean the boys can't be friends anymore. What do you think?
— ENOUGH IS ENOUGHAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
I feel your pain, but I think unless their son has disrespected you as well, you should drop the ‘tude. Let’s face it, if your son’s only allowed to make friends with kids whose families you approve of, he’ll be reduced to having tea parties with stuffed animals. So lighten up.
And your husband’s the coach, not you, so butt out. It’s ridiculous to penalize this poor kid just because his family’s insufferable. DEAR ABBY: My 89-year-old mother has always been difficult. She not only never loved me, she treated me as if she didn’t like me, either. She told me she didn’t send me a birthday card on my birthday last month because “What was it supposed to say — what a ‘wonderful’ person you are?” My children visibly winced when they heard her say it and worked extra-hard to make sure my day was special.
Abby, I have cancer. My prognosis is questionable. I was supposed to have been dead seven years ago — but I’m managing. My problem is, I recently was told that my mother has been keeping in touch with a single friend of mine from years ago, and they are making plans for her to marry my husband when I die! A few other so-called “friends” are in on this.
This last betrayal is incredibly hurtful. Where do I go from here?
-J.C. IN CALIFORNIAAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Straight to the phone. You call this nasty bitch of a mother, tell her the jig is up on this marriage thing and say, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you’ll snuff it long before I do.” Then call this “friend” and tell her not to bother with a bridal registry.DEAR ELLIE: I was in a three-year same-sex, long distance relationship with a man, from Europe - monogamous for me, not him.
I soon learned he was a drinker, substance abuser, sexually promiscuous. I broke off but remained friends. I also offered him support in seeking addiction treatment, which he rejected.
Fifteen years later, he occasionally visits, staying with me and my (same-sex) husband of 13 years. Recently, he bragged about a liaison with a flight attendant on his trip overseas; he spoke of his drug paraphernalia; he takes sleeping pills plus a double cocktail to sleep. He drinks at meals into the night. I believe he contracted hepatitis and doubt he informs his casual sex partners.
I cautioned him on the consequences of his being an alcoholic, abusing prescription drugs, his addiction to street drugs, his sexual addiction, of being inconsiderate of others' well being and playing his partner for the fool.
I drove him to the airport, told him I loved him as a friend and that my offer of help stood. He's since called and left a message asking to be in touch soon.
I'm wondering if I've said and done what's best.
-SELF-DESTRUCTIVE FRIENDAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Well, you’re a hell of a lot nicer than I am, that’s for sure. I don’t know how you can remain friends after finding all this out. I still can’t speak my ex’s name, or run into him on the street, without getting hives. His entering my home is out of the question—I don’t want my cat exposed to him, and I don’t feel like fumigating that often. And he was Cliff Richard compared to this guy.
To answer your question, you’ve certainly done all you can. You’re probably a little closer to your ex than I would deem wise, but if your husband doesn’t object, and you don’t mind offering the help, it’s probably OK. You’re a good friend—better than he deserves, probably. (The only cold comfort is that you probably won’t have to offer your support for very long—this person is undoubtedly destined for a short life with his alcohol and drug abuse, on top of his hepatitis.)DEAR MARGO: I am a 20-something girl who was engaged to a guy a couple of years older. We had a good run, but things deteriorated, and he left me for a younger chick.
I went through a period of being mad at him, and then I got over it. I prefer to live with the good memories, and heck, we haven’t even talked in six months. We rarely cross paths anymore, and when we do it’s no big deal.
The problem is his girlfriend. She seemed nice at first, but over time, she seemed to develop a superiority complex: I lost him; she has him; ergo, she’s the victor. If she sees me do something she doesn’t agree with, she thinks nothing of trying to pick a fight. She says she’s just making "observations" and that I need to be mature and accept her criticism with grace. I don’t see how my life is any of her business.
In the end, I usually tell her exactly what she wants to hear (that she’s right or that I’m sorry) because we have mutual friends that I don’t want to lose because of her influence. Any suggestions for a better way to handle this?
—UTTERLY FRUSTRATEDAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
OK, help me out here: If you rarely cross paths with him, why do you so often cross paths with her? Do you regularly meet for coffee so she can tell you what color she painted the ceiling since you left??
Tell her to park her broomstick up her ass. When she says that you need to accept her observations and criticism with “grace,” tell her that she needs to learn what that word means before she can sling it around--she clearly hasn’t got a clue.
You’re right—your life IS none of her business, and you need to make that crystal clear to her. Don’t cave in and tell her she’s right just to keep peace—why the hell should you care about that?? As far as your mutual friends, I wouldn’t worry. Most of them would probably enjoy the spectacle of your taking her apart. And if any of them do take sides against you, they’re not really very good friends, are they?DEAR MISS MANNERS: Just when I thought etiquette was at its lowest on the convenience scale, my husband and I received an e-mailed invitation to his cousin's wedding.
To top this off, we received it three months prior to the event and were requested to RSVP within days. The bride's family (immediate and extended) lives in Washington, D.C., and the wedding is in London. I am still flabbergasted. How do I RSVP? Do I RSVP?
Honestly, I don't feel compelled to attend an event that will take our children out of school, cost us more than $4,500 and inconvenience us greatly -- for a girl whom we adore but whose family could not inconvenience themselves to print and mail an invitation.
Said bride is now sending out mass e-mails saying that she is sorry that it seems that she didn't care if we (all) attend her wedding. She checks with her mother for the numbers of attendees and is disappointed that they are so low.
How do I respond to this? Do we send a gift? What would be appropriate? My husband thinks that the e-mailed invitation is great because it's "green," but I can't get over my own expectations.
-GREAT EXPECTATIONSAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Well, get over ‘em, honey, because that ship has sailed—the era of rice paper invitations with self-addressed stamped envelopes is over.
To answer your question, do RSVP to your husband’s cousin with a nice e-mail (yes, bite the bullet and bow to modernity just for today) explaining that you’re sorry you won’t be able to attend, but that she’s in your heart and you wish her all the best (or some bullshit like that). Send her a nice gift and a card.
I’m sure you’re not the only ones who will be unable to attend—no doubt she accepted that eventuality when she decided to be married overseas.
Aaron's Rotten Advice: July 23, 2010 ("Because It's Been A Helluva Week and I'm Ready to Spray Some Bitchy") Edition
DEAR AMY: I'm wondering how to handle a situation with my mother and stepfather. After a barrage of complaints by my mother about my father's infidelity during the marriage, my stepfather said, "The best thing that ever happened to your mother was when her first husband died."
My father died more than 55 years ago, leaving my mother and four young children in near poverty.
I thought this was thoughtless, and I let them know. My mother knows my siblings and I loved our father dearly. Hardly a day goes by without my still thinking of him.
I don't plan to ever see my mother and stepfather again. This is the straw that broke the camel's back!
They didn't apologize and seemed to feel we were parting with no hard feelings.
Would it be anticlimactic if I wrote and let them know why I won't see them again?
— CHARLENEAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Yes, in a way it would. You have to strike while the iron is hot.
For example, when he said your father’s death was the best thing that ever happened to your mother, you should have looked him stone-cold in the eye and said, “And your dying will be the next best thing.”
Although if she’s still bitching about your dad after 55 years, she’s probably a harpy of a wife and makes your stepfather’s life hell. Death might be the best thing to happen to him, too.DEAR ABBY: When I was in college, I dated "Alex." Three months later, I found out he had a steady girlfriend, "Jane." During the next two years, Alex continued to cheat on Jane with me because Jane wouldn't have sex with him. I finally told her what had been going on, and I ended the relationship with Alex.
Ten years have passed, and I hear they are being married. Do you see anything wrong with that?
- DUMBFOUNDED IN MINNEAPOLISAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
So let’s get this straight: you discovered “Alex” had a girlfriend three months into your liaison dangereaux, but you continued bumping nasties with him for another two years??
But seriously—if “Jane” is crazy enough to marry him after he’s dipped his wick in so many waxpots (and don’t kid yourself that you were the only one), then she’ll get what she deserves for her stupidity. Let’s just hope it isn’t something contagious or disfiguring.DEAR ELLIE: My wife had a six-month affair; when I found out, it almost physically and mentally destroyed me. Three years out, we're reconciled. However, every one of her friends who were aware of her affair was somehow complicit in her activities, and has been cut from both our lives.
They were not friends of our marriage. I'll never again speak to anyone who knew me and acted normally with me, while fully knowing my wife was rutting with another man.
However, the one person to whom we'll both be eternally grateful is her one lifelong friend who forced her to confess, as soon as that friend learned of the affair: "Either you tell him, or I will - you've got 24 hours." We both cherish this person, the only one who helped save our marriage.
Don't underestimate the total devastation that an affair causes to most betrayed spouses. Many adulterous spouses - though not all - are horrified themselves by their behaviour once it's exposed and time has passed. Though my father had had an affair, I never really understood what my mother went through, until it happened to me.
I thought my experience was unique and horrible until I read the stories and advice of thousands of others having gone through the same trauma, through www.survivinginfidelity.com.
--ONE MAN'S DEVASTATIONAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Oh, go screw yourself. Look, I’m sorry that you experienced the sting of infidelity, and I don’t take such things lightly, but quite honestly, from the rest of your letter, you sound like a self-righteous drama queen.
Frankly, it shouldn’t have been up to your friends to spill the beans on your wife. If they were friends of both of you, did you really expect them to choose one over the other? Get real. Besides, there are all kinds of clues to infidelity—you were probably just not smart enough to pick up on them. You said your father had an affair—did you learn nothing from his actions? It’s hardly your friends’ fault if you’re thick as a concrete dam.
In the end, you probably did them a favor by cutting them off. God knows what sort of high drama you and your wife trail around in public these days, with her perpetual shame and your perpetual martyrdom (you don’t sound like the type who’d keep your dirty laundry in a closed hamper). I’d be embarrassed to associate with it.
And seriously, "rutting?" Who says that anymore? This ain't "Masterpiece Theatre." Save your eloquence for the Infidelity Victims' Message Board. There must be a “stigmata” application somewhere on that site.DEAR MARGO: I think my husband is addicted to porn. We recently visited Las Vegas and had a fairly good time, even though he lost all the cash we had at the slot machines. But that's a different letter. While there, we were going to see a show but couldn't agree on which one. I wanted to see one of the highly recommended shows like Cirque du Soleil, but he wanted to see one of the erotic nude shows.
I am not interested in seeing any type of show with naked people in it. I don't know why he thinks I would find that enjoyable, when I could be seeing "The Phantom of the Opera" or something good. He says next time we go to Vegas, we will each pick a show and then go see the other's show with them. Should I agree and then, when the show makes my stomach hurt, excuse myself to go to the restroom and not come back? I don't want to see other men naked. And all I think about is that our daughter is 19 and how would I feel if she were baring her body for hundreds of men?
-- AM I A PRUDE?AARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
You’re not a prude, just a dipshit. Not because you don’t want to see a nudie show—they certainly aren’t for everybody, and I don’t want to watch one either. But it’s not your 19-year-old daughter baring her body for all and sundry—you’ve probably got that poor girl in a chastity belt. And why assume your husband is “addicted to porn” because he wants to see a live erotic show with you?
Let me explain something to you: “porn” is something visually titillating (but usually with little other redeeming value) that guys tend to buy on the sly, either in “adult” bookstores or on the Internet with a credit card. Once they’ve bought it, they usually prefer to —er—“consume” it in private, not with their spouses. The fact that he wants to see this show with you does not indicate that he’s a porn “addict.” It’s more an indication that he wants to see something exotic and erotic in person that he can’t see with you in your hometown of Cornpad, Illinois.
And you sound like a sneaky little witch, too, with that restroom thing. If you don’t want to see the show with him, have enough spine to just tell him so, and leave it at that. If he wants to watch it anyway, you can go see Cirque de Soleil or “Mamma Mia,” or some other boring piece of crowd-pleasing shit, and he can go watch “Thanks for the Mammaries” or whatever it’s called. Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll bore your friends to tears with the pictures and stories when you come home (they’ll probably prefer to listen to his).DEAR MISS MANNERS:
I'm afraid I often encourage nimrods who are ranting (parroting) hate radio. I'm one of the few people in existence who actually listens when others talk. And when listening, one occasionally grunts "Uh huh" to show we're still there.
Unfortunately, "Uh huh" can convey both "I hear you" and "I agree." I certainly don't agree, but I wonder if there's some other noise one can make that simply registers, "I heard." Perhaps you can suggest some noise. One that's even shaded toward, "For the love of God, have you listened to yourself?" "You're spouting blither, you fool!" would be even better.
Occasionally, I get irked that I'm used as a sounding board, since what's transpiring is in no way a "conversation," but that's another topic. Who said, "A bore deprives you of solitude while denying you company"?
--MAROONED WITH THE ULTRA-MAROONSAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
I don’t know, but I suspect they were talking about you. (If you want to know why people don’t listen, just record yourself sometime and play it back.)
You’re way overthinking this. If you really want to appear polite to boorish people (and I can’t imagine why you would), then just a single-syllable grunt will suffice: “Mm.”
From the sound of these folks, I don’t imagine they can comprehend words more than one syllable anyway.
Aaron's Rotten Advice-It's Baaaaaaaack....July 16, 2010 Edition
DEAR AMY: It has been seven years since my husband had an affair with another woman.
Although I wanted a divorce for the first couple of years, financial circumstances and family members discouraged me, so I stayed.
The disappointment, anger and sadness have subsided through the years, but somehow the contentment I once had never returned, even though my husband is nicer now. I'm no longer depressed, but fun things such as going out and traveling just don't excite me that much anymore.
Before the affair, I was a happy person and enjoyed life in general. Now I am much more cynical about men and even women. I used to trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I realize that just because my husband broke my trust, not everyone is dishonest. But I am still very guarded and reluctant to trust people.
I've forgiven my husband, but I no longer feel the same way about him. I don't love him, but I don't mind living with him because I don't like to live alone. My husband never wanted a divorce, and he's surprised that I still haven't gotten "over" it.
How can I get back that joy I once had? Or is there no hope?
— JOYLESSAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Sure there is. All you need is a heavy frying pan.
Of course you don’t enjoy traveling. Try it without him and see if that makes a difference.
When you say your husband is “nicer” now, does that mean he keeps his trouser snake in its terrarium? Or is Nag still roaming the jungle in search of every Nagaina who spreads her hood for him?
It’s not surprising that you can’t trust people now—frankly, it’s surprising that he’s surprised. If the only reason for keeping him around is that you don’t like living alone, throw his ass out, go the animal shelter and pick up a cocker spaniel. They’re cheaper to maintain, easier to bathe, and fleas are the worst you can catch from them.DEAR ABBY: I left my wife for a much younger woman two years ago. Despite what my ex-wife says, it was not a mid-life crisis. I was very unhappy with my wife and our marriage. Our divorce has been final for seven months -- although I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever truly be "final."
My girlfriend, "Nicole," is anxious for us to be married and start building a life together. I'm still overwhelmed from how unbelievably painful the whole divorce process has been, and I can't begin to think about getting married again at the moment.
I have told Nicole that I'm not ready and I need some time. She says I'm "stringing her along," and even though she doesn't want to have kids, she still feels her clock is ticking for finding an acceptable mate. It has reached the point where Nicole says she is going to leave me if I don't commit to marrying her.
What is a reasonable time to expect someone to recover and be emotionally ready to remarry after an extremely bitter divorce? And what do you suggest?
-- STILL HEALING IN WASHINGTONAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
That you go suck an egg. You left your own yard for what you thought was a greener pasture, and seem to have stepped in a big mound of shit—and now you know the secret to good gardening.
What did you think was going to happen when you shacked up with Little Miss Thang? That she’d be content to follow you around forever like a Grateful Dead groupie, with no promise of a ring (except for the one around your bathtub)? In your ‘shroom dreams, Jerry.
As for your question on timing, I’d say one year from the date of the divorce is long enough for your partner to wait. If that’s too soon for you, then maybe you shouldn’t be involved in a relationship and you should set her free to rewind her ticking clock.DEAR ELLIE: My wife and I are retired, in our early 60s, and we have one son, married, and two adorable grandchildren. Our latest family rift occurred when our son and his wife purchased a home and asked us to co-sign their mortgage. We refused, and this resulted in them not speaking with us and not allowing us to see our grandkids.
Three months ago we communicated with our daughter-in-law to discuss what financial assistance we could provide. She said our refusal to co-sign meant they were out of pocket by some $22,000. When we explained we'd have to borrow or cash in retirement savings in order to help, she became hostile and confrontational.
My son refused to attend this get-together; he said he was waiting to see what we offered. His wife later wrote us, venting that all of their problems for the past 12 years are the result of our not supporting them financially, and that they'll now have to sell their house. They had financial problems maintaining payments on their former home, and we allowed them to live with us for more than a year, expense-free. We also gave them $10,000, and their grandfather, without telling us, gave them $14,000.
Ellie, the hurt of being continually blamed for their financial problems has gone too far. Do you have any suggestions?
--EMOTIONALLY SPENTAARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Yeah, move and change your phone number. You’ve spent way too much money and time on these leeches already.
If these two were old enough to get married, boink and make babies, then they should have been adult enough to plan within their financial means. If they didn’t, it’s their own fault, not yours or the grandfather’s. There’s no such thing as “out of pocket” for a person who takes out a mortgage loan. It always comes “out” of their “pocket,” because it’s their loan. You’ve already been more than generous letting them live with you and giving them as much as you have. For them to expect more is outrageous.
It’s a shame they’re keeping the grandkids away from you, but after all, if they’re raising them, chances are those kids are going to turn into insufferable little monsters before long. Consider yourselves lucky.DEAR MARGO: I was invited to a Facebook Event a month and a half in advance — 60 guests, a bonfire on a farm, bring your own lawn chair and beverage and a dish to share for a potluck supper. I declined and posted a polite message. A week later, my schedule changed and I wanted to change my RSVP to yes, but the event administrator (a friend?) removed me from the guest list. He now refuses to allow me to attend, stating: "Once you say no, you cannot change your mind." His rule of etiquette. I would be grateful for any advice and your "etiquette opinion," please.
— LADY IN ROCHESTER, MINN. AARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
He’s an asshole and his parties probably suck, so you’re not missing anything.
The only fun part would probably be meeting him in person and finding out that he’s 20 years older and eight inches shorter than his photo indicates.