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    Miss Conduct

    Advice: Should a stepmom have any say in her stepdaughter’s wedding?

    Plus, tips on dealing with a sister’s insult.

    Need advice? Submit questions for Miss Conduct here.

    My stepdaughter is getting married soon. Right now, the big issue is who is walking whom down the aisle. Biomom insists that the bride’s two brothers should walk her (Biomom) down the aisle, but not me — she wants me to escort my mother, instead. The wedding planner also wants me to walk my mom (though she differs on who should escort Biomom). I love my mother dearly but it seems odd to me. I don’t see why one brother can’t walk Biomom and one walk me, then zip back up the aisle to walk my mom down. Isn’t that what ushers do, walk up and down the aisle to show people to their seats?

    A.L. /Salem

    It doesn’t make sense. It also doesn’t matter, and isn’t your problem.

    There’s a lot of freedom in that, because so often things that are illogical and inefficient and wrongheaded and pointless and why do people have to be like that, anyway . . . sorry, I got carried away. Because I get you. You have a need for efficiency. You want to see systems work well, and that’s a personality trait and personal value.


    But nonsensical group decisions often have terrible consequences. And often our role in the group is ill-defined, so that we are not sure when to intervene, or how. This kerfuffle is only silly, and you need only observe it bemusedly. You’re not the director, you’re not the stage manager. You’re a cameo. Show up, stand where they tell you, say your lines if you have them, keep a pleasant expression on your face, take advantage of the free food, and luxuriate in the freedom from responsibility.

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    You can teach yourself to enjoy these minor, niggling irritations that you have no responsibility to solve, and it’s probably a good idea for people like us to do so. It’s like enjoying spicy food, or scary movies, or roller coasters, or a strenuous workout. Your pain receptors get triggered, but your executive brain knows that the pain isn’t a signal of real danger or damage, so you get a little rush from it instead, and go “Whooooo!” and bang the table with your fist and order another beer (a sequence of actions that as stepmother of the bride you might wish to perform only in your imagination).

    My sister moved into a new apartment almost a year ago. Not having received an invitation to see her new place, I recently told her I would love to see her new apartment. Her response was that it was OK, “but I’m not serving anything.” I felt insulted and offended and at a loss of words at this behavior. Your opinion, please.

    L.E. / Foxborough

    My opinion is that you and your sister have some kind of ongoing passive-aggressive feud, and it’s a shame you can’t use that energy to either repair your relationship or admit that even if you’re family, you’ll never be friends, and let go of the expectations you place on each other. My opinion, you’re welcome.

    Robin Abrahams is a writer with a PhD in psychology. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.