Q. I have a wonderful partner. We have been together for three years, own a beautiful home and have a baby on the way.
My guy’s sister, “Marcia,” is a perpetual victim. She is always suffering from one perceived slight or another. The world is always out to get her. And she is never at fault.
Over a year ago, I made the mistake of asking her, very nicely (and privately), to stop pestering my boyfriend over a particular issue. I was kind and empathetic.
It went poorly. Now, I am a terrible person. She’s told other people in their family that I am the worst person in the world. She won’t talk to me, and will not attend any family event that I am invited to. This has put others in the position of having to choose between the two of us.
This has caused tremendous issues, especially over holidays.
I am not related by blood, so I defer. My partner supports me, and would very willingly stay home with me, or make other plans, in place of spending time with his sister. But I feel bad, because this is his family, and I feel like I’m keeping him away from family events.
A few months ago, I sent her a note asking if we could put this behind us. There has been no response.
How do I handle this going forward? I would like to have some unity here, especially with a baby (the first in the family) on the way. I understand that she will never change, but is there any way I can promote some peace, at least?
A. You are not keeping your guy away from family events — his sister is. I’m not sure why you feel bad about this when your partner doesn’t, but your bad feelings (and others’) will enable this exclusionary behavior.
The one thing you should not have done is to insert yourself in her relationship with her brother. Their relationship is their business — not yours.
You and your partner should ignore this restriction and show up together (and/or separately) for family events and holidays whenever you want to see his family members. If there is an “invitation only” private family event that you are specifically restricted from, your guy should stay away, too.
You and he should host events for the family and invite everyone (including his sister). Before your child is born, you should invite and include her in any celebratory events his other family members are invited to, such as showers, etc. Behave politely toward her, but remain detached from her shenanigans.
Q. Soon I will be going on a four-day road trip with two friends.
I will be doing all of the driving and using my own car. It’s about a 2½-hour drive each way to/from our destination, with driving throughout each day once we arrive.
This trip will call for more driving than I would normally do by myself, but I’m willing to do this, and also act as a tour guide because I know the area, and they don’t like to drive.
So far, the two friends have talked about paying for gas, which is fine. We are sharing hotel expenses equally.
I want to be fair so that all of us have a good time. We are all financially comfortable.
Is paying for gas enough for a road trip, with one person doing all the driving and using their own car?
A. To answer the question I think you’re trying to ask, yes — you could probably figure out how much the wear and tear on your car might be worth during this road trip. You could also calculate how much your own time is worth, in terms of you expending the effort of being the driver and “tour guide.”
But one function of a healthy friendship is a person’s willingness to occasionally give, without expectation of compensation or reciprocation. If you cannot extend yourself joyfully, then you should definitely charge these friends more for the trip.
Q. “Pregnant, But Still Able” insisted on sitting on the floor after a male colleague offered her a seat. It is a shame that she felt compelled to respond to this polite gesture by rudely refusing it.
A. The entire issue (a pregnant woman insisting that she NOT be offered a seat in a crowded room) is a reflection of where we are right now. Life is pretty complicated.Amy Dickinson can be reached at email@example.com.