Dear Amy: I have an aunt (married to my dads brother) with whom I have been fairly close over the past 18 years. I dont have any siblings, and our family is very small, so even though she is 16 years older than me, we have been very close.
We are drastically different in most ways she dropped out of high school, I have two masters degrees; she is a Republican, I am very liberal; I work outside the home, she doesnt and we both have strong opinions. We also have children who are the same age, and that has helped us keep our connection.
When we disagree, she will stop talking to me for months at a time (she wont take or return my calls, etc.). She either wont talk about what happened, or if she does, it is through yelling and being obstinate. Several times I have decided that I am done dealing with her, but eventually we get along again, and our families spend time together several times a year.
At the last two functions at our home, she has tried to start arguments with me in front of other people. I think this is rude and inappropriate, and I honestly wonder if there is something wrong with her.
I cannot invite my own mother to family functions because she thinks she is being entertaining by cutting me down in front of others, and I feel my aunt is quickly making her way into this category as well. What would you do?
Dear Fed Up: You can control this to some extent by anticipating that this woman will attempt to bait you. And you can determine that you will not play this particular game, because if someone throws an argument and no one shows up, then the perpetrator is left more or less stewing in her own juice.
Something might be wrong with this aunt. She might have an illness, become argumentative when she drinks, or might have simply decided that she really doesnt like the cut of your jib.
You are already excluding your own mother from family functions, but I suggest you explore ways to cope with your aunts behavior a combination of ignoring and deflection might work or you could mentally (or physically) leave the room.
Dear Amy: Can you help me with an appropriate, polite response to how I am sometimes addressed by others?
I am married and took my husbands last name. However, my pet peeve is that I dont want to be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.
I know that many people (especially the older generation) feel this is proper etiquette. I feel that not including my first name is disrespectful and takes away my identity.
I understand it is not intended to be disrespectful (by most people), so how can I respectfully relay my feelings?
Dear Tracy: Its not that people feel this manner of address is proper etiquette, it is proper etiquette to be formally addressed (on paper) as Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.
However, do you care about formal etiquette in this particular context?
Yeah, me neither. But all the same you must know that this formal politeness is intended as the very opposite of disrespect, and so you do not have permission to take offense.
If you are dealing with this issue in terms of an in-person introduction, you can interject to say, Oh please, call me Tracy.
You can address your own mail as Tracy Smith to remind people that you do have a first name and ask people to include your first name in their address books.
Dear Amy: Further responding to Kissed Consultant, who was subjected to an unwanted kiss from a business associate she needs to administer a swift hard shove to this man, at the least.
A strong forearm would not be amiss, either. Who cares if hes from another culture or doesnt know better? He needs a quick lesson in American etiquette!
CHARIS IN SUWANEE, GA.
Dear Charis: If you see a hard shove as American etiquette, then Id say youve pretty much identified whats wrong with us.