Dear Abby: I have been married to my wonderful husband for 10 years. My father-in-law, “John,” has always been a man of extremely few words with me. He mostly just ignores me when I’m around. I have mentioned it to my husband and mother-in-law over the years, and they say he’s just “weird.”
Last year, my brother-in-law married a nice woman, “Donna.” It turns out that John talks just fine with her. He’s not overly chatty, but he’s friendly and polite. They had a 20-minute conversation on Christmas Eve, and I don’t remember ever exchanging more than three sentences with the man. I’m naturally sociable and easygoing, and I don’t know why John would treat me so rudely for so long.
Of course, I’m jealous. I would trade the father-in-law I have had for the one Donna has in a heartbeat. I’m so hurt and angry that I find it difficult to be in the same room with him now. I am seeing a therapist, which helps, but I’m still not sure how to get over this or how to proceed. Can you offer me some advice?
Like I’m Not Here
Dear Like: I’ll try. There could be any number of reasons why your father-in-law has been unable to connect with you, and I can think of at least one that might have nothing to do with you. Has it occurred to you that this may have something to do with the way he feels about your husband? Sometimes the negative feelings a parent has toward a child can spill over onto the spouse. That might explain his warmer attitude toward your sister-in-law.
However, if that’s not the case, then you will have to accept that people don’t always have the same level of chemistry with everyone — and your father-in-law isn’t being intentionally hurtful. I have experienced this, and if you think about it, I’m sure you probably have, too.
I’m glad you’re seeing a therapist, although I hope the reason isn’t your father-in-law. If being around him is uncomfortable for you, then limit the time you spend with your in-laws. That’s what I’d do.
Dear Abby: Over the past 35 years I have saved all the cards, letters and photographs sent to me by friends. I thought it would be fun to make them into scrapbooks and give them back to those friends one day.
Now that I finally have the time to organize them all, I’m not so sure. They are pre-Facebook. There are lots of letters about their pregnancies, birth announcements, child-rearing experiences and holiday letters.
Can you ask your readers if they would welcome something like this or should I toss them all? It’s time to clean house.
In the West
Dear Unsure: I’ll put the question out there, but the people who really should answer are the friends for whom you’re thinking of creating those scrapbooks. Speaking for myself, I think they would be priceless gifts, but I can’t answer for everyone.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.